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Ensuring a Hygienic Industrial Environment

Posted on 26 November 2017 by sam

Ensuring an Hygienic Industrial Environment

According to OSHA, “Industrial Hygiene” refers to “science of anticipating, recognizing, evaluating, and controlling workplace conditions that may cause workers’ injury or illness.” Industrial hygiene is essential to maintain. It has been a concern for centuries, with such policies as the British Chimney-Sweeper’s Act of 1788 and the first American worker’s compensation laws in 1911. Today, nearly every employer in the United States must adhere to the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSHA). Technology and safety continue to advance to improve the health of the work environment, although we do discover still that some substances that were once staple materials are actually hazardous (take asbestos, for instance).

Know the hazards

It’s important to know what the hazards are. Each job or industry has certain hazards that are more prevalent than others, so be sure to research which ones apply to you. OSHA says that the major job risks fall into the following categories: physical, ergonomic, chemical, biological, and air contaminants. Physical hazards include things such as radiation, noise, and temperature. Ergonomic considerations involve the physical tasks workers must complete and the technology that might aid or hinder them. Chemical compounds that might be inhaled, absorbed, or ingested are a major concern, as are biological hazards such as viruses and certain microorganisms. Air contaminants, though similar to some of the biological and chemical hazards, include anything we might inhale, such as dust, fumes, or aerosols.

Maintaining a hygienic work environment

Since there are many rules, regulations, and compliance standards, companies oftenl hire abatement contractors to ensure that the workplace meets all the hygiene standards–and if it doesn’t, what measures to take to reduce the harmful substances and comply to regulations. These contractors can run tests for all sorts of contaminants, including lead and asbestos, as well as checking water and waste management. There are organizations and consultants out there that provide health and safety training, disaster response training, hazard prevention and control, and worksite analysis, to name a few. It’s a good idea to incorporate these trainings and measures in your workplace for all employees.

The very equipment your employees use needs to meet these regulations. Be sure that your machinery and other constructed necessities are developed with sound engineering and out of non-toxic, compliant materials. For instance, installing an effective HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system–and keeping it well-maintained–will improve the temperature and air quality of a building.

It may be worth having an industrial hygienist on your team or at least on-call. Industrial hygienists have degrees in an appropriate science field and have at least three years working in the industrial hygiene field. Most have been certified by the American Board of Industrial Hygiene, and they dedicate their careers to the health and safety of workers everywhere.

Failure to meet compliance regulations can have devastating consequences for employees and employers alike. First of all, the company could face serious fines, and secondly, if employees are injured or made ill on the job, the company could face lawsuits. At the very least, they will have to pay out workers’ compensation, which could cost thousands of dollars.