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What to Expect from An Industrial Hygiene Assessment

What to Expect from An Industrial Hygiene Assessment

We have discussed safety and health assessments previously, and in this article, we are going to focus on an industrial hygiene assessment. Understanding what an industrial hygiene assessment is will help to understand how industrial hygiene and industrial safety differ. They have closely linked concepts; nonetheless, there are important distinctions.

After covering the difference between those concepts, this article provides an industrial hygiene assessment checklist (broadly helpful, though generic). It concludes with the action step of compiling an industrial hygiene assessment report, as well as scheduling any follow-up industrial hygiene exposure assessment(s) that may be needed. Finally, we will discuss the various industrial hygiene evaluation methods.

Industrial Hygiene vs. Industrial Safety

Industrial Hygiene

Repetitive motion, temperature peaks and valleys, radiation, and excessive noise are examples of environmental risks or stressors. These stressors — which may be physical, biological, ergonomic, psychosocial, or chemical— must be controlled in any work environment. The aim of an industrial hygienist is to reduce illnesses, injuries, and impairments that result from workplace risks. Their work involves the identification, evaluation, and control of these risks. Professionals in this field analyze stressors in terms of the potential for exposure, leveraging meticulously fine-tuned scientific approaches.

When you want to perform an industrial hygiene assessment, you may want the expertise of an industrial hygienist (as accessible through an EH&S services company). Alongside health & safety compliance assessment, specialists in this form of compliance also may offer auditing and development of other on-site health-and-safety programs. Specialists may use industrial hygiene evaluation methods such as noise assessments (hearing conservation), ergonomics, ventilation, respiratory protection, air sampling, and indoor air quality testing.

Industrial Safety

Industrial Safety

This term is the practice of activating plans and policies that improve the environment using industrial hygiene assessment results. It refers to the management of all operations and events within an industry in order to protect its employees and assets by minimizing hazards, risks, accidents, and near misses.

Industrial safety is overseen by federal, state, and local laws and regulations. The Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA) is the primary regulatory body in the United States dedicated to ensuring industrial safety.

Straightforward Industrial Hygiene Assessment Checklist

Here are a few key notes before we introduce this example of a possible checklist:

  • This checklist is helpful in terms of understanding typical tasks taken by an industrial hygienist when assessing a worksite. However, any checklist ultimately must be customized to your specific environment and context.
  • You cannot complete this checklist from your desk. Put the checklist on a clipboard and get ready to move. It requires and is organized to facilitate a walk-through approach.
  • Ticking off any of the checkboxes in the below categories is an indication of a “Yes” answer. In other words, the box is checked when you determine that the work environment is acceptable in that aspect of hygiene. If not, there is room for notes directly below each category’s list of questions.
  • Following the questions within each category are a few boilerplate questions related to issues that arise as you complete the checklist.

General Questions

  1. Is the facility clear of any moldy or dusty areas?
  2. Is there evidence of preventive maintenance? Have any needed repairs been performed quickly and effectively?
  3. Is there a preventative maintenance program in place for the facility?
  4. Is there appropriate illumination for all areas so that all job operations can be performed safely?

Chemicals & Materials

  1. Are all chemicals and materials known and managed? Are they required for the tasks being performed?
  2. Do you have the Toxic Effect Category known and listed for all relevant chemicals?
  3. Are chemical inventory sheets being properly used in all applicable settings?
  4. Do you have at least one chemical inventory list on-site and at least one additional copy of the list off-site?
  5. Is there a chemical risk assessment in place?
  6. Do your chemical storage practices follow industry standards? Is the right labeling being used? Are practices appropriate given the type of chemical and amount of it?
  7. Is secondary container labeling used? Are safety data sheets (SDSs) in use? Is all staff trained in Hazard Communication?

Indoor Chemical Emissions

  1. Are any air-intake entry points through which outside contaminants could get into the building properly controlled?
  2. Whether through open doors or loading docks, are unacceptable (i.e., unsafe or non-compliant) levels of vehicle exhaust getting into the building?
  3. Have solvents, lab chemicals, paints, carpeting, furniture, colognes, perfumes, and bioaerosols been evaluated for potential risk and addressed as necessary?

Physical Conditions

  1. Have any instrument or equipment vibration issues been addressed?
  2. If radiation equipment is in use, have employees been properly trained on radiation hazards and shielding?
  3.  Is the appropriate sign posted for high-decibel areas? Do employees have access to hearing protection?
  4. Have ergonomic risks been properly addressed, such as with ergonomic workstation design?
  5. Is proper PPE available for any intensely hot or cold temperatures? Have temperature extremes otherwise been addressed?

Control Measures

  1. Is there evidence of preventive maintenance related to ventilation? Are you free of employee complaints?
  2. Is personal protective equipment available? Is it being used properly?
  3.  Is local exhaust ventilation in place, and has it been tested to ensure it’s in the proper range?
  4. Are chemicals or dangerous noises isolated when there is no other way to control the risk?
  5. Are you tracking the exposure duration and adjusting your plans accordingly to further mitigate and control risks?

How to Proceed with Your Assessment

Based on the findings from the above checklist, customized to your context, create an industrial hygiene assessment report. Schedule an additional industrial hygiene exposure assessment if you find exposures that require immediate action.

This process is not best performed DIY. Get experts at your side. At AOTC, we utilize innovative and effective occupational health and safety services to address any harmful exposures to your staff. Contact us today to discuss how we can help you and create a customized assessment today.


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