Industrial hygiene can be described as the “science and art” (Office of training and education, n.d., p. 1) dedicated to detecting, assessing, and managing those factors and stressors present in the workplace that can affect workers’ health or well-being negatively or cause them discomfort; the definition often involves, along with the effects on workers, the effects on the members of a community in which an industry participant operates or which it is capable of affecting.
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Five pillars, i.e., main principles of industrial hygiene, can be identified as work practice controls. First, it is necessary to modify existing work conditions and operation procedures to minimize workers’ exposures in their operation of equipment. Second, it is necessary to inspect and technically maintain all the existing equipment according to a properly composed schedule. Third, appropriate housekeeping procedures need to be implemented.
Fourth, there is a need to supervise all the processes according to best practices in supervision. Fifth, regulated areas need to be established in which eating, drinking, smoking, or applying cosmetics are restricted or prohibited, and the restrictions and prohibitions need to be properly enforced. It is evident that all five controls are among the responsibilities of the management; it shows that industrial hygiene is largely an area of managerial work, and it is, to a lesser extent, a concept that addresses workers’ behaviors or practices in the workplace.
In the air traffic control industry, industrial hygiene can encompass such issues as noise, confined space, hazardous materials, ionizing radiation, and thermal stress. From the perspective of the five pillars, it can be assessed that the primary managerial task is to create a working environment that minimizes workers’ exposure to any hazards, including certain regulated or potentially harmful substances, loud noises, and radiation.
To implement this successfully, it is necessary to evaluate the risks present in the workplace; and for this purpose, monitoring or regular screenings should be conducted. For instance, if there is a risk of being exposed to harmful substances, workers should go through a medical examination on a regular basis to identify negative effects on their health. Neitzel, Crollard, Dominguez, Stover, and Seixas (2013) collected data on blood lead levels of the workers of a scrap metal recycling facility; this examination is part of the industrial hygiene measurements that are required to support the implementation of the five pillars.
Apart from the managerial objectives summarized in the five pillars, there are other types of controls. Primarily, these include engineering controls. For example, in the case of noise exposure, engineering controls include reducing the noise at the source or protecting workers by providing and encouraging the use of hearing protection devices (Suter, 2012). However, alternative solutions should be considered, too, because many workers may be unwilling to wear such devices due to discomfort or concern that they miss important sound signals. This example shows that engineering controls can be divided into two groups: minimizing the hazard at the source and providing additional protection to workers.
Another type of control is administrative; administrative controls imply that, if exposure cannot be avoided, the work should be organized and scheduled in a way that the minimal possible number of people is exposed to minimized hazards (Kirchner et al., 2012). Vadali, Ramachandran, Mulhausen, and Banerjee (2012) stress that an important type of controls is providing appropriate safety and industrial hygiene training to workers so that they are aware of hazards and methods of minimizing the negative effects of exposures.
Kirchner, D. B., Evenson, E., Dobie, R. A., Rabinowitz, P., Crawford, J., Kopke, R., & Hudson, T. W. (2012). Occupational noise-induced hearing loss: ACOEM task force on occupational hearing loss. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 54(1), 106-108.
Neitzel, R. L., Crollard, A., Dominguez, C., Stover, B., & Seixas, N. S. (2013). A mixed-methods evaluation of health and safety hazards at a scrap metal recycling facility. Safety Science, 51(1), 432-440.
Office of training and education. (n.d.). Industrial hygiene. Web.
Suter, A. H. (2012). Engineering controls for occupational noise exposure. Sound and Vibration, 46(1), 24-31.
Vadali, M., Ramachandran, G., Mulhausen, J. R., & Banerjee, S. (2012). Effect of training on exposure judgment accuracy of industrial hygienists. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, 9(4), 242-256.