The American Board of Industrial Hygiene defines industrial hygiene as “The science of protecting and enhancing the health and safety of people at work and in their communities.”
In practical application, industrial hygiene is the method of quantifying common employee concerns such as “Does this smell really bad?,” “Is it too loud?,” and “How much of this stuff am I breathing in?” OSHA has identified more than 600 air contaminants and assigned each a permissible exposure limit (PEL). A PEL is designed to protect employees from exposure over the regulatory limit. Legally, employee exposures to these designated contaminants must be below the established PEL.
So, where should an employer start?
Determine what chemicals, materials, and ingredients are used by your company.
- What are your raw products?
- What is your finished product?
Determine if, or how many, employees have contact with these chemicals/materials.
- Are they handled manually?
- Are they mixed or blended?
- Are they used in brush-on or spray coating operations?
- Are they cut, ground, or welded?
Recall, if employees ever expressed concerns about health effects or symptoms. Were they concerned their symptoms could be a result of materials they handle at work?
When in doubt, measure material or exposure levels to confirm if existing concerns need to be addressed, or if exposures to potentially physically harmful contaminants or other hazards, such as noise levels and radiation, are adequately controlled.
RETTEW is available to assist with your industrial hygiene risk assessment, testing, and mitigation planning needs. Please contact Kristen Morgret, CSP, at 800.738.8395 for more information.
Safety training and consulting are only some of RETTEW’s 600+ services. Our safety team works hand in hand with engineers, scientists, project managers, and other technical experts at places such as manufacturing facilities, drill pads, and commercial construction sites. We are well respected in many industries and known for ensuring workers and equipment remain safe, which keeps your projects on track and your bottom line growing.