Do Industrial Hygienists teach Doctors how to wash their hands?
What do you do for a living? It’s an easy conversation starter, but when I tell people I am an Industrial Hygienist I usually receive blank stares. One person asked if I teach doctors how to wash their hands. After we finished laughing I explained that Industrial Hygiene is the practice of recognizing bad stuff in the environment and protecting people from it. Think OSHA. Industrial Hygienists work with clients to identify and help protect themselves from hazards in their working environments. For instance, demolition projects can expose workers to lead, asbestos, silica, PCBs, and other hazardous substances if these substances are not identified and carefully removed. New construction materials can expose workers and future building occupants to chemicals such as formaldehyde, isocyanates, and VOCs. Manufacturing facilities use a wide variety of chemicals which can harm workers if they are overexposed. Industrial hygienists conduct the air sampling necessary to evaluate exposure and to provide the proper protection.
Industrial Hygienists commonly assist with indoor air quality (IAQ) concerns. Lack of ventilation and indoor contaminants such as mold, VOCs, dusts, and allergens can make workers sick or uncomfortable in their workplace. Industrial Hygienists conduct evaluations including ventilation testing, air testing and physical inspections, to identify the cause of IAQ issues and provide guidance in fixing the problem. Using an industrial hygiene consulting firm like RGA Environmental saves smaller companies money and allows larger organizations access to experts for more complex issues.
Eric Hartman, CIH, Sr. Project Manager – Seattle, WA