Environmental Protection and Industrial Hygiene

Industrial Hygiene is concerned with the anticipation, recognition, evaluation, and control of chemical and physical hazards in the workplace. Environmental science is an interdisciplinary field that draws on ecology, geology, meteorology, biology, chemistry, engineering, and physics  to study environmental problems and human impacts on the environment. Although different, there are many instances where the environment and workplace intersect. A manufacturer that produces contaminated air may affect both employees and the  environment.

  • EPA standards may address and regulate the same hazards that OSHA and other occupational exposure standards address.
  • Industrial Hygienists and safety professionals measure noise in the workplace but can also measure noise that affect persons living near industrial and manufacturing facilities. Many communities have noise standards and may rely on an industrial hygienist or safety professional to measure noise levels.
  • Under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) there is a variety of areas in which industrial hygiene input is required. These include testing, Premanufacture Notices (PMNs), Regulation of Hazardous Chemicals, and Reporting and Recordkeeping.
  • Under TSCA, as of 2014 the EPA must conduct a risk evaluations of existing chemicals. A number of these have already been conducted. Industrial Hygienists and safety professionals can use these standards to protect workers. 
  • Environmental specialists may rely on industrial hygienists and safety professionals to protect themselves when conducting evaluations and clean-up. Environmental consulting companies often have industrial hygienists and safety professionals on staff or contract to evaluate exposures to their workers.
  • Many industrial hygienists and safety professionals have training and certifications in environmental science and have a dual role in protecting the environment as well as employees.
  • Industrial hygiene sampling devices are used to take environmental samples such as  soil-gas measurements and rely on NIOSH and OSHA sampling methods.
  • Industrial hygienists and safety professionals work in many fields such as manufacturing, oil and gas, heavy industry, etc. Employers may rely on them to evaluate environmental hazards.
  • Often hazardous chemicals affect the worker as well as the environment. For example: a painter who works in paint booths may be exposed to hazardous vapors and toxic powders. Paint spray booths must be permitted by environment authorities to control emissions and hazardous materials must have proper disposal.
  • During the COVID epidemic industrial hygienists and safety professionals were instrumental in evaluating mask and respiratory usage, ventilation systems in schools, factories, and buildings
  • EPA and OSHA have conducted joint compliance inspections where one or the other recognizes that workplace hazards affect both disciplines.

Industrial hygiene and environmental science are two separate disciplines, but at the same time there are many instances where they are complementary. Practitioners of both should recognize where one can help the other to better protect the workplace and the environment. 

For more information on this topic and to discuss your company’s safety and industrial hygiene needs call OccuSafe at (214) 662-6005 or visit us at www.occusafeinc.com

OccuSafe Industrial Hygiene & Safety, Inc. provides skills and expertise to recognize, evaluate and control hazards and injuries in the areas of industrial hygiene, occupational safety and health. OccuSafe services companies of all sizes in a range of industries.

This newsletter is published monthly by OccuSafe Industrial Hygiene & Safety Services, Inc. Feel free to forward it to friends and colleagues or see past newsletters 

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