Occupational Hygiene is the discipline of anticipating, recognizing, evaluating and controlling health hazards in the working environment to protect worker’s health and well-being and safeguard the community at large.”

 Introduction about Industrial Hygiene

As we humans care for our families and our friends, we also care for each other in our cities, in our villages, at school and home. Similarly, we care for each other at work.

We care for each other at work by protecting each other’s health, protecting each other from hazards or dangers at the workplace. Hazards such as Chemical hazards (harmful liquids and gases), biological hazards (bacteria and viruses) and physical hazards (too much noise and heat) are the parameters that we keep protecting from.

We also protect each other from the hazards of repeated movements, such as sewing, assembling parts, and typing where we make the same movement again and again. We also protect each other from the mental and emotional stress at work that can cause illnesses and injuries. The reason that we protect each other is very simple because at the end of the day all of us want to go home in good health. To care for ourselves, our families and friends are what we do as a human.

At work, the name for all these protection is called INDUSTRIAL HYGIENE. Which is also called OCCUPATIONAL HYGIENE but it all means the same. Both industrial and occupational mean WORK. And hygiene means protecting health. In all other words, we call it protecting people’s health at work.

When we do work we also plan and study the dangers related to the work. So that we can decrease those dangers or try minimizing them as early as possible or even remove those dangers completely. No matter what kind of work we do, no matter how big or how small it is.

Overview of Industrial Hygiene

People’s breathing and health can be harmed by possible hazards such as dust or spray painting. These hazards can occur at large operations such as construction sites or industrial painting sites , at small and medium operations and with one person working alone. But regardless of the size and the type of work, the people who are key to this are personal hygienists. They are the champions that protect workers. They are the eyes and ears of the workplace. The ones who find help hazards and correct them. So how do they do it?

First, they start with expert, scientific knowledge in chemistry, biology, physics and mathematics, and toxicology or poisons and epidemiology. Then they focus on all the scientific training and strong ethical standards and bring all these skills into the workplace. In the end, industrial hygienists are about people listening to people, talking to people, working with people, protecting people from workplace hazards. Together, workers and industrial hygienists form a team where everyone plays an equal part, where industrial hygienists bring their technical knowledge to the workplace also where workers bring their knowledge and expertise about their work, their values, and their relationships.

This team shares one purpose something that we all value, that everyone understands how to protect themselves and each other at work so that everyone goes home safe and healthy after the job.

Industrial Hygiene works with everything related to work, like dealing with workers, managers and supervisors, budgets and costs, equipment and materials, production.

First, industrial hygiene connects with worker’s physical safety with environmental health. This protects not only workers but also everyone in the surrounding community. Industrial hygiene unites workers and managers, so that everyone comes together to protect each other. Industrial hygiene also links healthy workers with a healthy business, with fewer illnesses, fewer injuries, and fewer costs, all creating greater health and greater productivity for everyone.

But most importantly, industrial hygiene connects work and home. If everyone’s health is protected at work, those same workers can care for and protect their families when they return home.


Central Industrial Hygiene Association (CIHA) was formed by professional individuals and was registered under the Bombay Public Charitable Trust Act 1950 dated 31/08/2004. It’s goal is to educate and influence society to adopt safety, health and hygiene policies, practices and procedures that prevent and control occupational health in various occupations.

One of the main priorities of any workplace is to keep its employees safe and healthy. Robust industrial hygiene and chemical safety program helps reduce hazard levels in the workplace, and it gives employees the tools and protection they need to stay safe when they encounter hazards.

Today hundreds of millions of workers across the globe remain at risk from work hazards. Over two million people worldwide die each year due to work-related illness and injuries, with 160 million new cases of work-related illness occurring each year. In addition to all the human suffering, these illnesses and injuries create an economic loss of 4% of the world’s gross national product. But with the improved use of industrial hygiene, we could use the money to improve people’s lives, improve their work conditions, and improve productivity where they work.

In India, the Labour Ministry formulates national policies on occupational safety and health in factories and docks with advice and assistance from the Directorate General of Factory Advice Service and Labour Institutes (DGFASLI) and enforces its Policies through inspectorates of factories and inspectorates of dock safety. DGFASLI is the technical arm of the Ministry of Labour & Employment, Government of India, and advises the factories on various problems concerning safety, health, efficiency, and well-being of the persons at workplaces. The DGFASLI provides technical support in formulating rules, conducting occupational safety surveys, and also for conducting occupational safety training programs.

Why is Occupational Hygiene important?

This can be illustrated by comparing statistics. In the UK,

  • The number of deaths due to work activities is about 250 per year
  • Deaths due to road traffic accidents about 2,500 per year
  • Deaths due to work-related cancer and respiratory disease is estimated at 13,000 per year

How can we improve Industrial Hygiene or Occupational Hygiene- where we work?

The American Industrial Hygiene Association, AIHA can help. AIHA connects industrial hygienists and workers around the world, providing a network of experts where people can come together, identify problems, and find solutions. In addition, AIHA provides education and technical expertise, helping governments, organizations, and companies to develop the policies and practices that protect workers, methodologies applicable for a different type of toxic hazard, etc.

A healthy workforce means fewer days off, happier and more productive employees, and a reduced risk of compensation cost. Occupational hygienists have been involved historically with changing the perception of society about the nature and extent of hazards and preventing exposures in the workplace and communities. Many occupational hygienists work day-to-day with industrial situations that require control or improvement to the workplace situation. However larger social issues affecting whole industries have occurred in the past. Occupational hygienists have become more engaged in understanding and managing exposure risks to consumers from products with regulations.

The social role of occupational hygiene

Anticipating, recognizing, evaluating, and controlling are the various steps involved in this process. Many of these issues have required coordination over several years of many medical and paraprofessionals in detecting and then characterizing the nature of the issue, both in terms of the hazard and in terms of the risk to the workplace and ultimately to society. This has involved occupational hygienists in research, collection of data, and developing suitable and satisfactory control methodologies.

Environmental Control reduces exposure by reducing the concentration of toxic in the workplace environment. This includes substitution, isolation, enclosure, local ventilation, dilution ventilation, wet methods, and good housekeeping.

Personal protection prevents or reduces exposure by providing the barrier between the worker and the workplace exposure.

We may have an enclosure, that is an enclosed room or equipment, and place it under negative pressure. Typical techniques are enclosed hazardous operations such as sample points sometimes sealed rooms, sewer, and ventilation. Analyzers and instruments can be used to observe inside. There are some wet methods used to minimize the contamination with dust. The typical technique involved are clean vessels chemically versus sandblasting, use water sprays for cleaning so that the dust may get deposited, clean are frequently good housekeeping.

What is occupational health and safety?

Occupational Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing of the worker and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity (WHO, 1946)

It involves the promotion and maintenance of the highest degree of physical, mental, and social well-being of workers in all occupations. The protection of workers in their employment from risks resulting from factors adverse to health. The placing and maintenance of workers in an occupational environment adapted to physical and mental needs.

Occupational health and safety management:

Health and safety management involves taking practical steps or measures to ensure that employees are free from all forms of injuries and dangers to their health at the workplace.

It involves implementing precautions that prevent/protect workers from injuries or dangers to their safety and health.

The management of employees’ health is a dual responsibility between employers and employees. The employer will provide all the tools and the employee will have to comply.

Objectives of Occupational health

  • To maintain and promote worker’s health and working capacity at work.
  • To improve the working environment and make work conducive to workers.
  • To develop work organizations and working cultures in a direction that supports health and safety at work.
  • To promote a positive social climate and smooth operation to enhance organizational productivity.

What are hazards?

Hazard is a potential source of harm or adverse health effect on a person or persons.

Or any substance or material that can cause harm to a person or group of persons. Occupational hazards, therefore, refer to those aspects of the work and work environment that tends to cause harm/ danger to people or employees. In ensuring employee health and safety at work, employers should put in measures to prevent or reduce the availability of these hazards from the workplace.

What are the risks?

While Risks refer to the likelihood or chance (high or low) that a person or group of persons may be harmed or suffer adverse effects or be exposed to a hazard. For example- if there was a spill of water on a floor then that water would present a slipping hazard to persons passing through it. However, if access to that area was prevented by a physical barrier then the hazards would remain though the risk would be minimized.

 Impacts of Risks:

Safety hazards are those aspects of the work environment that have the potential to cause immediate and very violent harm to the individual. Anything that can cause death or cause an individual to lose part of his body is a safety hazard. Ex.: machinery, equipment, acidic and highly flammable substances, etc.

Health hazards are those aspects of the work environment that have the potential to cause harm to the individual slowly and cumulatively. These hazards can take years before the effects are noticed. Such a hazard gradually deteriorates the employee’s health. Health hazards are latent and go unnoticed until a later point in time.

Ex: poisonous gases, long hours of work, noise, high temperature, heavy workloads, etc. Also, short-term and long-term noises can lead to hearing loss for workers.

Biological hazards are associated with working with animals, people, or infectious plants materials. Work in schools, day care facilities, colleges and universities, hospitals, laboratories, nursing homes, etc. may expose you to biological hazards which can cause a variety of health effects ranging from skin irritation and allergies to infections (e.g., tuberculosis, AIDS), cancer and so on. Biological hazards include blood and other body fluids, bacteria and viruses, fungi, insect bites, and animal and bird droppings which can cause food poisoning, tetanus, respiratory infections, or parasite infection.

Physical hazards are the factors within the environment that harm the body without necessarily touching it. These include electromagnetic waves, high exposure to sunlight or ultraviolet rays, extreme temperatures (hot and cold), constant loud noise.

Ergonomic hazards occur when the type of work, body positions, and working conditions put a strain on your body. They are the hardest to spot since you don’t always immediately notice the strain on your body or the harm these hazards pose. For example, proper ergonomics can help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, and lower back injuries. Short-term exposure may result in sore muscles the next day or the days ahead, but long-term exposures can result in serious long-term illness. These include improperly adjusted workstations and chairs, frequently lifting, poor posture, awkward movements, especially if they are repetitive.

Chemical Hazards are present when a worker is exposed to any chemical preparation in the workplace in any form (solid, liquid, or gas). Some are safer than others, but to some workers who are more sensitive to chemicals, even common chemical solutions can cause illness, skin irritation, or breathing problems. Some of them are liquid cleaning products, paints, acids, pesticides, weedicides, etc. Especially if such chemicals are in an unlabelled container. Vapors and fumes come from welding materials.

Gases like smokes from burning substances such as weeds and plants, fumes from the exhaust of engines, smoke from cigarettes, etc. Flammable substances like petrol, kerosene and other explosive chemicals.

Work/ organizational hazards activities at the workplace that could cause stress (short-term effects) and strain (long-term effects)

These include workload demands, workplace violence, workplace bullying, lack of respect, and lack of flexibility, lack of social interaction and relations, and also sexual harassment.

Occupational hygiene as a career

Examples of occupational hygiene careers include:

  • Compliance officer on behalf of regulatory agency.
  • Professional working on behalf of the company for the protection of the workforce.
  • A consultant working on behalf of companies.
  • Researcher performing laboratory or field occupational hygiene work.


  1.  “WPRO | Occupational health”. Retrieved 2015-10-30.
  2.  “BS OHSAS 18001 Occupational Health and Safety”. BSI Group. Retrieved 2013-02-15.






Nice compilation of the subject on the most relevant topic of the time.
Language is very easy and well explained.
Overall, it is very informative and beneficial to all working professional.

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