By Joe Littlefield, program manager
Maintaining the well-being of employees in the workplace is a fundamental component of a successful environmental health and safety program. An Industrial Hygiene (IH) assessment often plays a critical role in the development, implementation and maintenance of these plans.
Industrial hygiene is defined by OSHA as "the practice of anticipating, recognizing, evaluating and controlling workplace conditions that may cause workers' injury or illness.” IH assessments are performed to meet a wide range of objectives including:
- Identifying potential hazards in the workplace.
- Establishing baseline worker exposure levels to hazards.
- Routine monitoring of worker exposure levels.
- Developing engineering, work practice and administrative controls to minimize
- Determining PPE requirements.
- Instituting occupational safety programs for respiratory protection, hearing conservation,
IH assessments evaluate a wide variety of safety and exposure hazards. The scope of these assessments depends on the hazards present to which workers could be exposed, ranging from a facility-wide comprehensive hazard assessment to a specific area, process or position. The conclusions and recommendations from an assessment are instrumental in implementing programs and controls to minimize or eliminate employee exposure.
IH assessments of physical hazards, such as ergonomics or machine guarding, typically involve a visual or physical review of the facility and specific components by an industrial hygienist to ensure compliance with applicable OSHA regulations. Monitoring potential worker exposure usually involves an industrial hygienist. An IH sampling technician might deploy specialized meters and sampling pumps for personal exposure monitoring during a full work shift, which can include outfitting a worker with an air sampling pump to sample media for exposure to hazardous airborne constituents like respirable silica or heavy metals. Data from the laboratory analysis of the sample media would then be used to determine the workers’ time weighted average exposure for a typical shift.
IH assessments are commonly performed in industrial facilities involved in manufacturing, chemical processing, logistics and power generation, to name a few. However, EHS managers at any facility or organization that places an emphasis on employee health and safety can benefit from an IH assessment. Due to the complex and numerous industrial hygiene hazards and controls, many organizations do not have the in-house capability to perform IH assessments. Tioga’s scientists are adept at evaluating facility EHS programs, identifying IH hazards and developing monitoring plans. Contact our team to get started. We look forward to helping you with your IH assessment needs!