The term Industrial Hygiene is gaining popularity these days as more and more employees become aware of their health and safety rights at the workplace. Industrial hygiene refers to a healthy workplace in a broader term. It refers to the identification and management of hazards at the workplace. There are four categories of occupational risk: physical, chemical, ergonomic, and biological. To cope with these risks and potential hazards, organizations often hire industrial hygienists who help them prevent work-related injuries and diseases. Therefore, it is also referred to as Occupational Health or Occupational Hygiene.
Industrial hygiene works around four basic principles, including:
- Anticipation of hazards
- Recognition of hazards
- Evaluation of hazards
- Control of hazards
The Role of an Industrial Hygienist
When an organization works with an industrial hygienist, it becomes easier to maintain a safe and healthy workplace environment. This is because the industrial hygienist serves as the guardian of occupational safety, anticipating safety concerns and devising solutions to prevent potential safety threats. Using safety data sheets, they use a scientific approach to evaluate and control workplace hazards. They also conduct workplace analysis to evaluate machinery, operations, work activities, and jobs.
The industrial hygiene industry is booming due to the advancement of modern education. Students now can learn from programs such as an Industrial hygiene master’s online from top universities worldwide. With the Master of Science in Public Health in Industrial Hygiene program, they learn to scientifically examine occupational health and safety to create strategies that protect worker health. Industrial hygienists identify potential hazards, which can be classified as:
- Air Contaminants
Fumes, Gases, Dust, Fibers
- Chemical Hazards
Harmful Chemical compounds in the form of liquids, solids, gases, fumes, vapors
- Biological Hazards
Viruses, bacteria, fungi causing chronic infections
- Physical Hazards
Excessive levels of radiation, temperature, vibration, noise, illumination
- Ergonomic Hazards
Eye strain, excessive noise and vibration, repetitive motion, problems with lifting heavy objects
Reasons why Industrial Hygiene is Important
The importance of industrial hygiene can be seen in the fact that it helps prevent potential work stressors, injuries, and illnesses having short-term and long-term effects on employees’ health in the industry. Here are some reasons to understand the importance of industrial hygiene in detail.
- Lower Healthcare Costs
When operating a company in a high-risk industry, you will have to face huge costs related to worker healthcare in case of injuries or illnesses. It is valid for organizations with jobs involving strenuous work, heavy material handling, or physically demanding tasks. These jobs can result in disabling injuries, which means the employer has to bear the extra burden of insurance premiums and healthcare costs.
When you invest in industrial hygiene, you provide a safe workplace for your employees, reducing short-term and long-term healthcare costs.
- Reduced Absenteeism
Multiple factors contribute to employee absenteeism. Some may be related to their personal lives, like struggling to balance work and family or chronic health issues, while others can be connected to their workplace. For instance, if a workplace is poorly designed, it will stress the employees as they have to work all day in such an environment. And industries, where employees have to work with chemicals face increased Absenteeism if they lack the proper provision of tools and equipment to keep their employees safe. On the other hand, if employees find their employer demoralizing, they will skip work.
All these concerns can be solved by hiring industrial hygienists, who will ensure the stressors are eliminated by designing an ergonomic workplace, and employees are provided with necessary equipment when dealing with chemicals, thereby reducing Absenteeism.
- Increased Productivity
Company productivity is based on a combination of factors, including work environment, job conditions, and how employees are treated. For example, if an employer fails to provide a safe and clean environment to its employees, their productivity gets affected. This is because they find their jobs stressful and distracting, causing fatigue and anxiety. On the other hand, employees who work with supportive supervisors in a safe and clean environment are more productive due to increased morale and lower stress levels.
Maintaining industrial hygiene and implementing high safety standards can increase employee productivity and wellness. You can also train employees in occupational hazards to identify and report hazards to avoid dangerous situations at the workplace.
- Company Image
When a company makes industrial hygiene its top priority, employees would highly regard it. It attracts potential talent by maintaining a reputation as a safe and hygienic organization. When you maintain a safe workplace, you also have a strong relationship with your investors and partners. If you want to create a positive image of your organization for the longer term, you need to invest in occupational hygiene.
- Organizations can Focus on Improvement and Growth
When an organization focuses on having a hygienic workplace, it saves a lot of money by preventing injuries and illnesses. In addition, the money saved can be invested in the organization’s growth and improvement.
- Lower Turnover and Training Costs
When a workplace is not safe, it results in occupational injuries and illnesses. And in this case, the organization needs to replace employees to avoid delays in meeting deadlines. In addition, you incur hiring costs to recruit new employees, and you need to train those recruits for them to get a better understanding of their work. So you incur training costs too.
To avoid all these costs, you need to implement high safety standards, which will help you reduce the number of cases in which you need to hire replacements.
Industrial hygiene is essential to keep your workers safe from occupational hazards, thereby increasing employee productivity by ensuring high safety standards and hygiene protocols. It helps you reduce healthcare costs and ensures reduced employee absenteeism by providing a safe, clean, and ergonomically friendly work environment. It enables you to maintain a professional environment and a positive company image in the eyes of stakeholders. As an organization, you can save money by reducing costs and investing that money in your organization’s improvement and growth. When you invest in industrial hygiene, you invest in providing a healthy workplace for your employees. This will reduce the hiring and training costs you could have incurred otherwise when finding replacements. In short, a healthy community begins with a healthy workplace.