What Is an Industrial Hygienist and Who Needs One?

Sustainability and environmental concerns have been top of mind in recent years. Due to regulations, it is important that we ensure spaces have healthy indoor air quality, clean drinking water, and suitable waste disposal practices. An industrial hygienist can help to ensure that your building represents a sustainable environment. 

We’ll break down exactly what an industrial hygienist is, what their credentials are, and what they do. Then, we’ll explore why you might want to hire an industrial hygienist to assess your workplace.  

What Is An Industrial Hygienist? 

An industrial hygienist is someone who has the ability to assess and maintain safety standards for clean air, clean water, and even waste management. They can help businesses maintain a clean work site or identify hazardous contaminants. They are trained in identifying and mediating a space to healthy conditions.

What Are Their Credentials?

Industrial hygienists typically hold a bachelor’s degree in environmental health, chemistry, biology, or a related scientific or technical field. A science background is crucial for industrial hygienists to do their job.

Many also have a masters’ degree or even doctorate in another subject, which increases their experience and credibility in the field. Although not required, employers prefer those who have a Certified Industrial Hygienist Credential.  

A Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) is an individual who has met the minimum requirements for education and experience, and through examination, has demonstrated a minimum level of knowledge and skills across sixteen subject matter areas. Several states have recognized the CIH trademark, its implied capabilities, and have enacted legislation to protect the designation. It has, through the demonstrated success of its Diplomates, attained a brand recognition that gives a CIH a competitive professional edge over non-certified people. The CIH designation is recognized as the mark of professionals. With only 11,475 certifications worldwide as of 2017, there is name brand recognition and professional credibility among this elite talent. AirQuest has two CIHs and one retired CIH on staff.

What Do They Do? 

Industrial hygienists commonly enter workplaces to ensure that employees working with potentially toxic substances are safe. They also have the ability to train staff and prevent health and safety hazards from arising. 

The best industrial hygienists will be able to answer all of your health and safety questions and address your concerns. 

Some other services industrial hygienists can perform are: 

  • Health and Safety Plans
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Human Health Assessments 
  • Soil Excavation Oversight
  • Groundwater Sampling
  • Drainage Structure Sampling
  • Property Risk Assessments
  • Risk Assessments
  • OSHA Compliance
  • Job Hazard Analysis
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Assessments 

How Do They Prevent Larger Problems?

Risk assessments are a key focus area for many industrial hygienists. For new construction or repurposing of zoning or work sites, industrial hygienists can perform site assessments that identify key risks and provide insight on potential health and safety hazards. 

Let’s say you own a development corporation and you are doing a site analysis before construction starts on a new apartment building. The industrial hygienist on staff discovers that there is lead in the soil and it could be in the groundwater. 

Lead is of serious concern, especially for children. It’s highly toxic and can cause many developmental issues. Thankfully, industrial hygienists can provide recommendations to remove the lead from the soil and maintain a healthy environment.

Lead exposure can be a lawsuit waiting to happen. However, industrial hygienists can address potential exposure risks before they become an issue. 

Do You Need an Industrial Hygienist? 

If you run a business that uses or comes in close contact with hazardous materials, you absolutely need an industrial hygienist to ensure your employees with a safe environment. If your workers get sick or suffer injuries because of an unsafe work environment, you could be liable. Industrial hygienists can help ensure that your business runs smoothly. 

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets regulations for health and safety that apply to more than 6 million businesses in the United States. 

It’s more common now for industrial hygienists to be in every sector. The federal government employs hygienists to work in universities, on military bases, and even at the Center for Disease Control. Any work environment, even an office, that has potential for workplace hazards should have industrial hygienists to analyze the work space. 

Work environments from nonprofits to construction sites often have industrial hygienists on-site because of their unique ability to identify and minimize potential environmental risks for the planet and your staff. 

Top Three Reasons to Hire an Industrial Hygienist

If you are still on the fence about investing in an industrial hygienist to conduct an analysis at your workplace, consider the following reasons. It’s always better to get ahead of an issue before something major arises.

Additionally, be sure to use a vetted company to find your hygienist and read client reviews. 

1. Improve Employee Health and Trust

Hiring an industrial hygienist for your business or facility will help your workers and occupants feel safer. Industrial hygienists can train your team so that individuals can protect their own health and recognize danger signs.

After an industrial hygienist has been on-site, your employees can feel comfortable knowing their health and wellness is of top priority. 

2. Save the Planet 

Industrial hygienists not only protect your employees, but they also prevent harmful substances from entering the environment. Without proper protocols in place, hazardous materials from your business can enter the air and water supply. This can cause many health issues for the surrounding community and the environment.

Minimizing pollution is a core tenant of having a safe business that handles toxic substances. We only have one planet, so we need to do everything we can to protect it. 

3. Protect Your Business

In addition to protecting your employees and the planet, industrial hygienists make sure that your business is able to meet revenue goals by maintaining a safe work environment. Without safety procedures in place, your staff may not be able to reach optimal productivity levels to meet target sales. 

Additionally, the credibility of industrial hygienists can help if you do have an issue in the workplace. Let’s say you discover mold and call in an industrial hygienist to do an assessment. Their assessment and recommendations may help sway your insurance company to cover more of the damages. 

Hiring an Industrial Hygienist 

Now that you know the value of an industrial hygienist, it’s time to hire one! Keep your employees and planet safe by letting experienced professionals handle any health and safety concerns you may have. 

Next time you think about searching for an “industrial hygienist near me”, turn to AirQuest Environmental Inc. Our expert team is ready to take on any challenge. 

For more information, check out the rest of our blog or contact us here to get started on making your business a happy, healthy place to be!