Safety is a priority in every industry, but some have more inherent challenges and risks than others. Fortunately, industrial hygiene consulting helps identify and solve problems that could put people, processes, and entire businesses at risk. Here’s what to know about this technical specialty and why it matters.
A Look Into Industrial Hygiene Consulting
Industrial hygiene itself is far from a new concept. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) calls it both a science and an art that specializes in workplace physical, chemical, and biological hazards with a focus on::
In these ways, industrial hygiene solutions help manage workplace factors that may cause sickness, impaired health and well-being, or significant discomfort among workers. Simply put, industrial hygiene is a comprehensive evaluation of complex workplaces and their impact on the people in and around them.
However, not all companies have the budget or expertise to maintain a full-time, on-site industrial hygienist or team dedicated to these efforts. That’s where industrial hygiene consulting comes in.
Through consulting solutions, companies partner with third-party experts. This outside perspective helps unearth potential safety and health problems and indicates the next steps based on OSHA requirements and industry best practices.
What Industrial Hygiene Consultants Do
Although the specific processes may change depending on the industry and individual workplace, most industrial hygiene consulting services follow these steps:
#1: Conduct Assessments
This is perhaps the most important part of an industrial hygiene consulting partnership. During this stage, the consultant observes the workplace and the various people, equipment, and machines within it. They may also interview workers or watch certain processes to gather in-depth data.
As the consultant works, they’ll evaluate workplace characteristics such as:
- Chemical hazards
- Biological hazards
- Physical dangers
- Air quality issues
- Potentially harmful noise levels
- Process and task characteristics
- Sources of exposure
- Exposure duration, workforce configuration, and shift length
- OSHA 300 injury logs, previous industrial hygiene assessments, and employee complaints
- Mitigation controls in place such as ventilation, personal protective equipment, respirators, barriers, training, and others
- Occupational exposure limits relative to identified hazards
Often after information gathering is completed, an exposure assessment using instrumentation will need to be performed to quantify employee exposure.
#2: Create Reports
Once the consultant has investigated every corner of a particular workplace, they compile their assessment and exposure data into a comprehensive report. This covers various positions, areas, processes, and practices, informing both leaders and employees about key findings. The report is also intended to prioritize high-concern issues–for example, OSHA violations or significant safety hazards.
#3: Outline Solutions
Industrial hygiene consulting services typically offer support in identifying and planning solutions. Based on their findings, this can be built around OSHA requirements, selected occupational exposure limits, industry best practices, the consultant’s experience in workplace safety, and more. The consultant and any relevant internal teams will prioritize issues discovered in the assessment phase and outline which steps should be taken and when to rectify these problems.
Benefits of Investing in Industrial Hygiene Consulting
Companies of all shapes and sizes can choose to work with an industrial hygiene consultant. Here are the benefits all businesses can expect when partnering with a consultant:
Clarity and Visibility
When you work in an occupational environment and get used to all of the equipment, processes, and people, it can be more difficult to notice problems and risks. That’s why getting an outside perspective from a trained industrial hygiene consultant is often helpful. They bring clarity and visibility, helping identify issues that internal teams may have overlooked for one reason or another.
Better Risk Management
Almost every industry comes with some level of risk. When workers handle heavy machinery or are exposed to potentially harmful substances and situations, those risks become far more significant. Industrial hygiene consulting helps identify and manage these situations, reducing the chances of serious injuries, legal action, non-compliance fines, and more.
Improved Employee Morale
Dangerous situations, even those that workers have become used to, can drain morale and negatively impact well-being in more ways than one. Working with an industrial hygiene consultant helps show workers that their company cares about their safety and comfort and that leaders are taking concrete steps to make improvements. Industrial Hygienists often identify and remedy problematic areas within organizations that have been overlooked by internal staff, including safety and health management teams.
If a company tries to handle its own industrial hygiene without the right knowledge, experience, and expertise, two things could happen:
- Under-preparation: The company fails to recognize the depth or significance of certain issues, including employee exposure, and doesn’t implement solutions that accurately reflect this, leaving risks unaddressed.
- Over-preparation: The company thinks certain risks are more significant than they are and either invests too much in the wrong solutions, including mitigation controls, or spends too much money overall.
While it’s possible for businesses to handle industrial hygiene without these issues, it’s often easier to leave assessments, reports, and mitigation controls to professionals. This helps ensure responses are accurate, cost-efficient, and proportionate.
Industrial hygiene is a key element of many workplaces, but it’s not a challenge that must be undertaken alone. Companies can partner with industrial hygiene consulting services to simplify, streamline, and improve review processes and get better results across the board.
Do you need industrial hygiene consulting? Request a quote or no-cost consultation.