Who Is an Occupational Hygienist?
Occupational Hygienists are competent professionals who use their scientific and engineering knowledge and skills for the protection of workers from workplace hazards. Occupational hygienists may check work environments and processes and non-occupational environments for health and safety hazards related to:
- Chemical agents (eg. dust, fibres, gases, vapours)
- Physical agents (eg. heat, cold, noise, vibration, radiation, lighting)
- Biological agents (eg. viruses, bacteria, moulds, rodents)
- Psychosocial (eg. bullying, occupational violence, customer aggression).
What are the Qualifications and Training Required for an Occupational Hygienist
established membership and certification scheme for professionals interested and working in the field with several grades of memberships depending on the qualifications and experience.
The AIOH states that there are varying levels of training offered in the field of occupational hygiene. The level of training required will relate to the role of the occupational hygienist or technician performing the work. Training for occupational hygienists requires the successful completion of an acceptable degree in Science or Engineering (or an equivalent qualification) for consideration of one of the professional membership grades.
Occupational Hygiene Technicians
Occupational hygiene technicians role involves collecting measurements of worker exposure using established techniques, perform calibration of sampling equipment and required maintenance and either organise or perform laboratory analysis of samples collected. Technicians usually work under the supervision of a professional occupational hygienist.
Certified Occupational Hygienists
Certified Occupational Hygienist (COH) is the highest level of professional occupational hygiene expertise recognised by the AIOH and international agencies. Certification is an internationally recognised badge of competence, benchmarked with standards applicable in other parts of the world. The American Board of Industrial Hygienists (ABIH) certification is the Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH). Other international institutions have different designations.
Certified Occupational Hygienists usually undertake work where high level of expertise is required.
Duties and Responsibilities of Occupational Hygienists
Specific duties and responsibilities of the occupational hygienist may vary considerably from one job to another. In general, in the context of protecting the health and safety of workers, occupational hygienists:
- Observe processes, procedures and operating conditions both inside and outside work sites
- Develop strategies for evaluating the work site to determine the degree of risk
- Collect and analyse samples to assess worker exposure to physical, chemical and biological agents such as dust, fibres, asbestos, silica, bacteria, mould
- Use direct reading instruments, sampling techniques and other methods to measure levels of physical agents such as lighting, heat, noise, vibration and radiation
- Determine airborne exposure concentrations of contaminants and compare them to regulatory standards and guidelines and accepted occupational exposure criteria (eg. Safe Work Australia workplace exposure standards (WES), ACGIH TLV)
- Evaluate the effectiveness of control strategies implemented to protect against workplace exposures and hazards (eg. personal protective equipment, local extraction ventilation (LEV) systems)
- Interpret the results of exposure evaluations and determine risk to human health based on scientific research and recommend ways to control workplace hazards through engineering methods, improved work procedures and protective equipment.
How Can SESA Occupational Hygiene Team Help?
SESA occupational hygiene team include certified senior occupational hygiene consultants that are experts in the field assisted with occupational hygiene technicians. The team members have been involved for over 20 years in various industries including manufacturing, construction, property and facilities management, property development, commercial sector and government.
SESA senior occupational hygienists hold the following level of membership and certification with the AIOH and/or international bodies:
- Certified Occupational Hygienist (COH), Full member of AIOH, Chartered professional member of Safety Institute of Australia (SIA)
- Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) with the American Board of Industrial Hygienists (ABIH), Certified Safety Professional (CSP) with the Board of Certified Safety Professionals BCSP.