Depending on what part of the world you are from, you may (or may not) have heard the term Industrial or Occupational Hygienist. Essentially interchangeable, typically you will find the term Occupational Hygienist used more in Canada, with the term Industrial Hygienist more prevalent in the United States. Here are two perspectives.
from AIHA National –
Dedicated to Protecting People in the Workplace And The Community
Industrial hygienists are scientists and engineers committed to protecting the health and safety of people in the workplace and the community. Industrial hygiene is considered a “science,” but it is also an art that involves judgement, creativity and human interaction.
The goal of the industrial hygienist is to keep workers, their families, and the community healthy and safe. They play a vital part in ensuring that federal, state, and local laws and regulations are followed in the work environment.
Below are links to a video prepared by AIHA to assist in understanding the role of Industrial Hygienists:
- Download High Resolution WMV format from AB AIHA (83 MB)
from the Canadian Registration Board of Occupational Hygiene –
Definition of the Discipline and the Practice of Occupational Hygiene
Occupational Hygiene is generally defined as the art and science dedicated to the Anticipation, Recognition, Evaluation, Communication and Control of environmental stressors in, or arising from, the work place that may result in injury, illness, impairment, or affect the well-being of workers and members of the community. These stressors are normally divided into the categories Biological, Chemical, Physical, Ergonomic and Psychosocial.
The Occupational Hygiene practitioner has comprehensive knowledge of work place chemical factors, and physical factors such as noise and heat stress. In terms of chemical factors, they also have knowledge of safety concepts (e.g. flammability, water reactivity, etc.). They are familiar with biological factors and ergonomics (especially in the case of specific environments such as office buildings) but would in many cases work in conjunction with (or, defer to) practitioners with specific expertise in these areas, as well as in health physics, occupational psychology, safety, etc. Accordingly, their knowledge in these areas would normally be more limited.
The Occupational Hygiene practitioner is concerned with the broader (extra-workplace) environment, for example with respect to workplace discharges to the natural environment. As well, the practitioner has an appreciation of the differential impacts of toxicants on workers and the general population (e.g. the greater susceptibility of children to lead).
If you would like a brochure regarding the profession, please email the Local Section!
View the core competencies for the practice of Industrial/Occupational Hygiene.