Industrial / Occupational Hygiene

What is Industrial or Occupational Hygiene?

Industrial hygiene, also known as occupational hygiene, is “the discipline of anticipating, recognising, evaluating and controlling health hazards in the working environment with the objective of protecting worker health and well-being and safeguarding the community at large.’ -International Occupational Hygiene Association (IOHA)


What is an Industrial Hygienist?

According to the AIHA, industrial hygienists are scientists and engineers committed to protecting the health and safety of people in the workplace and the community. Industrial hygiene is considered a “science,” but it is also an art that involves judgement, creativity and human interaction.

The goal of the industrial hygienist is to keep workers, their families, and community members healthy and safe. They play a vital role in ensuring that federal, provincial, and local laws and regulations are followed in the work environment.

The IOHA points out that occupational hygienists assess health risks in the workplace; sample air to determine if there are harmful substances present; measure noise levels in factories; supervise the safe removal from asbestos from buildings; and provide practical advice on how workers can be protected from job-related health and safety risks.

Occupational hygienists work in a variety of industries, including manufacturing, petrochemical, pharmaceutical, and mining. Some hygienists are employed as consultants or researchers. Others work may work in government, hospitals and public utilities.

Please click here to find a video that was created by the AIHA to describe the role of industrial hygienists in keeping people safe at work.

Where did the terms occupational and industrial hygiene come from?

The term ‘industrial hygienist’ is commonly used in the US, and reflects the fact that the roots of the profession were largely in industrial settings, such as mines. The term ‘occupational hygienist’ is now commonly used in many parts of the world, and accurately suggests that the work of a hygienist is not limited to industrial settings.

The word ‘hygiene’ is of Greek origin and describes a set of practices that are performed to preserve health and prevent disease. The Greek goddess of health, Hygeia, was concerned with the preservation of good health and the prevention of disease.