What is Occupational Hygiene?
Occupational Hygiene is a science and art devoted to the recognition, evaluation and control of those environmental factors or stresses arising in or from the workplace which may cause sickness, impaired health and well-being, or significant discomfort and inefficiency amongst workers or among the citizens of the community. The anticipation, recognition, evaluation and control of workplace hazards or stresses which may lead to illness or discomfort are the primary roles of the occupational hygienist.
Canadians have become increasingly aware of the dangers associated with excessive exposure to various chemicals in the workplace. Biological hazards and physical stresses such as noise and radiation have also aroused public concern as new technologies are introduced and the nature of work changes. Employees are no longer prepared to accept such hazards as a normal part of work. Skilled occupational hygienists evaluate these biological and physical work stressors to make recommendations for the redesign of the workplace.
While the general perception is that workplace hazards are associated with the traditional industrial environment, the role of the occupational hygienist has expanded into offices and other workplaces such as farms, retail establishments, hospitals, laboratories and teaching institutions.