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What Exactly is Occupational Hygiene

Occupational hygiene is the discipline of recognizing, anticipating, evaluating and controlling any health hazard in the working environment with the objective of protecting the workers’ health and the well-being and also safeguarding the community at large.

Many have also identified occupational hygiene as the practice of identifying hazardous agents; physical, chemical and biological; in the workplace which can cause discomfort or disease, evaluating the extent of the risk because of the exposure to these hazardous agents, and also the control of those risks to prevent ill-health in the short or long term.

What is an occupational hygienist?

An occupational hygienist is committed to protecting the health and the safety of people in the community and the workplace.

There are many occupational hygienists who work in manufacturing, pharmaceutical, petrochemical, mining, steel and other industries. And there are others who work in national hospitals, governments and public utilities. Some of them are employed as consultants or in academia or research.

What do occupational hygienists do?

Occupational hygienists keep the workers, and also the communities that surround workplaces, safe and healthy. They are also here to ensure compliance with regulations and laws in the work environment.

An occupational hygienist will assess the health risks in a workplace; measure noise levels in factories; sample air to determine if there are harmful substances present; supervise the safe removal from the asbestos from buildings and provide helpful and practical advice on how the workers could be protected from job-related health and safety risks.

How do you become an occupational hygienist?

Training, education and experience are all very important aspects of an occupational hygienist’s career. The experience and education that is required could be obtained through formal undergraduate or postgraduate degrees, the training you will need can be gained by taking specialized courses, and the experience required could be achieved by working in this field.

What is the difference between occupational and industrial hygiene?

There is actually not much difference between the two. The term ‘industrial hygiene’ originated in the USA, while in most other parts of the world, it is known as occupational hygiene. In some ways, ‘occupational’ is a better word for it as health risks can occur in all places where people work, such as hospitals, farms and shops, not just in the places that you may think are industrial. At Induna Risk Management, we offer occupational hygiene programs and more. To find out more, visit our website on www.indunarm.co.za


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