Work-Related Health Terms-May 2014

Monthly Round Up of Important Ideas and Standards in
Industrial Hygiene and Safety 

May 2014

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IN THIS ISSUE: Work-Related Health Terms

In every profession there are words and phrases used to facilitate work. Here are some common ones used by industrial hygienists:

  • Acute Effecta change in the body after a relatively short term following exposure to a substance.
  • Biological Monitoring: the measurement of the body fluids as it relates to exposure to hazardous substances. Results may be compared with specific biological exposure standards.
  • Carcinogen: a chemical, physical or biological agent that can cause cancer in humans or and animals. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) publishes a list of carcinogens.
  • Chronic Effect: a change in the body over a relatively long period of time following repeated exposure.
  • Corrosive: a chemical that will burn the skin upon contact.
  • Dermatitis: the most common occupational disease with symptoms of redness, blisters, and cracks in the skin.
  • Engineering Controls: a type of hazard control that uses physical engineering methods. Examples include ventilation, isolation, enclosure, and re-design of equipment.
  • Ergonomics: the study or work stressors associated with the overuse of muscles, bad posture, and repeated tasks. This is accomplished by designing tasks, work spaces, controls, displays, tools, lighting, and equipment to fit the employee´s physical capabilities and limitations.
  • Fume: fine, solid particles formed when hot metal vapors cools that are associated with metal, especially from welding.
  • Hazardous Material: any substance that may cause adverse health effects to people and the environment.
  • Heat Stress: exposure to extreme heat that can result in occupational illnesses and injuries.
  • Industrial Hygiene: art and science dedicated to the anticipation, recognition, evaluation, and control of workplace environmental stressors that may result in injury, illness, impairment, or affect the well being of workers. These stressors include biological, chemical, physical, ergonomic and psychosocial factors.
  • Mist: small droplets of liquid suspended in the air.
  • Occupational Exposure Limit: upper acceptable concentration of a substance in workplace air particular material. Examples include the PEL and TLV.
  • Occupational Illness: a condition or sickness that results from exposure to a biological, chemical, or physical hazard.
  • Organic Solvent: carbon based substances that are capable of dissolving or dispersing one or more other substances. They can affect the skin through direct contact or have respiratory affects from vapors.
  • Particulates: fine solid particles that are suspended in air. Of special concern is the respirable portion, between 1-10 microns, that can be deposited in the lower lung.
  • Permissible Exposure Limits (PEL): occupational exposure limits published by OSHA.
  • Personal Air Sampling: includes a series of methods to measure worker exposure to substance(s). May include direct reading instruments or the collection of the substances on a designated media with subsequent laboratory analysis.
  • Reproductive Hazards: any material that can affect the development of sperm and egg cells. These include genotoxin that can damage the genes of an individual, teratogen that can affect the normal development of the fetus and a mutagen that can affect the DNA of the fetus.
  • Routes of Entry: how a substance may enter the body. These include inhalation, ingestion, skin or eye contact, and injection.
  • Safety Data Sheet: previously material safety data sheet, a document that contains information on the potential hazards (health, fire, reactivity and environmental) and how to work safely with the chemical product.
  • Sensitizer: a substance which after repeated exposure can cause skin and/or respiratory effects in allergic individuals.
  • Short Term Exposure Limits and Ceiling Values: occupational exposure standards for short term exposures usually 15 to 30 minutes.
  • Threshold Limit Values (TLV): occupational exposure limits for substances and physical hazards published by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists, a non-governmental organization.
  • Time Weighted Average: occupational exposure limits for an 8-hour shift.
  • Vapor: form that a gas or liquid takes when it evaporates into the air. Of greatest concern are organic petroleum products that from a vapor. A relative measure is vapor pressure.
  • Ventilation: an engineering control designed to supply or exhaust air. Local exhaust is designed to remove contaminants at the source.

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

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.

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