The importance of industrial hygiene

Each year, the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII) collects data on illnesses recognized or diagnosed by employers in the United States. These illnesses can be directly related to workplace activity.

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reveals that in 2015, there were approximately 139,200 nonfatal illnesses reported by private industry employers.  This translates into days lost to absenteeism. In 2015, there were 1,153,490 days-away-from-work cases reported.

Absenteeism trickles down to greatly affect the bottom line. In fact, Circadian, a company that focuses on workplace solutions, found absenteeism costs approximately $3,600 per year for each hourly worker and $2,650 for each salaried employee.

To help keep employees healthy and, in turn, on the job and productive, good industrial hygiene should be put into practice.

What are occupational illnesses?

Understanding what illnesses can be caused in the workplace is the first step in working to prevent them. These include:

  • Skin diseases or disorders. Caused by exposure to chemicals, plants or other substances. This includes contact dermatitis, eczema, rashes, blisters or chrome ulcers.
  • Respiratory conditions. These can occur when workers are exposed to chemicals, dust, gases, vapors or fumes. Examples of such illnesses are rhinitis, tuberculosis, chronic obstructive bronchitis, asbestosis or pneumonitis.
  • Poisoning. Abnormal concentrations of toxic substances are ingested or absorbed and then found in blood, tissues or bodily fluids. Poisoning may be caused by gases such as carbon monoxide or hydrogen sulfide; metals such as mercury, lead or arsenic; solvents such as benzene; insecticide sprays such as parathion or by other chemicals such as formaldehyde.
  • Hearing loss. Loud noise levels that happen only once or on a continual basis that lead to a change in hearing threshold.
  • Other occupational illnesses. These include anthrax, bloodborne pathogenic diseases such hepatitis B or hepatitis C, or malignant or benign tumors.

Industrial hygiene

It is important to be aware of the hazards present in your workplace and help prevent possible health and safety issues. Industrial hygiene is the science of protecting and enhancing the health and safety of people at work and in their communities.

Those dedicated to anticipating, recognizing, evaluating and controlling those hazards are known as Industrial Hygienists.  Through monitoring, testing and analytical methods, these experts detect the extent of an individual’s exposure and employs engineering, work practice controls and other methods to prevent or minimize potential health hazards.

Questioning your cleanliness?

If you are concerned about possible hazards in your workplace, it is important to bring in an Industrial Hygienist to evaluate your company.

Mark M. Levin is a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) with more than 25 years of industrial hygiene experience. He provides a comprehensive spectrum of technical and regulatory compliance services involving the anticipation, recognition, evaluation and control of workplace conditions that may cause injury or illness.

MML provides clients with prompt, reliable and thorough industrial hygiene services at lower cost, with personal client attention and superior service.

Contact us today for a quote and to learn how we can help your company with industrial hygiene.