What is Occupational Hygiene?
The definition used by IOHA is:
‘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.‘
Occupational Hygiene has also been defined as the practice of identifying of hazardous agents; chemical, physical and biological; in the workplace that could cause disease or discomfort, evaluating the extent of the risk due to exposure to these hazardous agents, and the control of those risks to prevent ill-health in the long or short term.
What is an Occupational Hygienist?
Occupational hygienists are committed to protecting the health and safety of people in the workplace and the community.
Some occupational hygienists work in manufacturing, petrochemical, pharmaceutical, steel, mining and other industries. Others work in national governments, hospitals and public utilities. Some are employed as consultants or in research or academia.
What does an Occupational Hygienist do?
Occupational hygienists keep workers, and the communities surrounding workplaces, healthy and safe. They also ensure compliance with laws and regulations in the work environment.
Occupational hygienists assess health risks in a 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.
How can you become an Occupational Hygienist?
Education, training and experience are all important aspects of an occupational hygienist’s career.
Education can be obtained through formal undergraduate or postgraduate degrees, training can be gained by taking specialised courses, and experience can be achieved by working in the field.
Additional information about occupational hygiene can be found on the Occupational Hygiene Training Association website OHlearning.com.
What is the difference between Industrial and Occupational Hygiene?
None really. The term Industrial Hygiene originated in the USA while in other parts of the world it is known as Occupational Hygiene. In some ways the term Occupational is a better description as health risks occur in all places that people work such as offices, shops, hospitals and farms, not just in places you would think of as industrial.
The word hygiene is derived from the name of the Greek goddess of health known as Hygeia. She was the daughter of Asklepios and sister to Panacea. While her father and sister were connected with the treatment of existing disease Hygeia was regarded as being concerned with the preservation of good health and the prevention of disease.
Where is IOHA’s Head Office?
IOHA has a permanent secretariat in the United Kingdom. The executive committee consists of a President, President-Elect, Past-President and Secretary/Treasurer. These positions are held for one year. Each member association designates one person to serve on the IOHA Board.
Is IOHA a rich organisation with full staff?
IOHA is very resource-constrained. It has very limited finances and manpower. It uses part-time secretariat services from British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS) as a resource. In that regard, its business operations are similar to those of the most of its member associations.
Why don’t I hear much about IOHA? What services does IOHA provide to me?
IOHA does not provide individual member services. It serves association members. IOHA objectives are to promote and develop occupational hygiene throughout the world, promote the exchange of occupational hygiene information among organizations and individuals, encourage further development of occupational hygiene at a professional level and maintain and promote a high standard of ethical practice in occupational hygiene.
Why should my association be part of IOHA?
Many national occupational hygiene associations feel that occupational hygiene is an international issue, not just the business and interest of just a few developed countries. In fact, globalization highlights this situation even more now. There is much to gained by sharing knowledge internationally, particularly when some regulatory systems cross national borders, such as EU REACH (European Union Regulation on Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals), and Global Harmonisation Scheme (GHS) for labelling.
A key element of interest for many national associations is the recognition of its national accreditation scheme. IOHA is particularly sensitive to local academic, legislative and cultural conditions. The IOHA National Accreditation Recognition (NAR) Committee officially recognizes national association certification schemes which comply with the Model Process accreditation scheme.