Safety School: Principles of Industrial Hygiene

Stephanie McCauley


Principles of Industrial Hygiene

An Industrial Hygienist (IH) is a safety expert whose three main jobs are to anticipate hazards, evaluate the worksite for risks, and work out the best way to control them. Do you need an IH at your worksite, and if you do, are they operating ethically according to these guiding principles?

1. Follow Recognized Scientific Principles.

Industrial Hygienists shall practice their profession following recognized scientific principles with the realization that the lives, health, and well-being of people may depend upon their professional judgment and that they are obligated to protect the health and well-being of people.

  • Base conclusions on principles and practices that protect employees health and safety.
  • Do not deceive, falsify, misrepresent, or leave out facts.

2. Provide Guidance Based on Facts.

Industrial Hygienists shall counsel affected parties factually regarding potential health risks and precautions necessary to avoid adverse health effects.

  • Gather facts on potential hazards from trusted sources
  • Review the known information
  • Take the necessary steps to communicate the risks to affected parties: management, clients, employees, subcontractors, and other employers at the worksite

3. Keep Employee and Company Information Confidential

Industrial Hygienists shall keep confidential personal and business information obtained during the exercise of industrial hygiene activities, except when required by law or overriding health and safety considerations.

  • Relate necessary information to protect worker health and safety
  • Notify employer, client or appropriate authority when overruled judgment may endanger someone’s health and safety.
  • Obtain the information owner’s unambiguous authorization before releasing confidential personal or business information, except where a law or regulation requires its release.

4. Prevent Conflicts of Interest

Industrial Hygienists shall avoid circumstances where a compromise of professional judgment or conflict of interest may arise.

  • Immediately disclose potential conflicts of interest to affected parties
  • Don’t accept financial benefits from anyone who may want to influence a decision
  • Do not offer valuable considerations to get a job
  • Warn employers when you think a project will not successfully improve conditions
  • Do not accept work that hinders ability to finish current jobs
  • Always resolve conflicts in a way that protects the health of affected parties

5. Stay Within Your Expertise

Industrial Hygienists shall perform services only in the areas of their competence.

  • Only carry out jobs when properly qualified – through education, training, or experience – or have sufficient qualified assistance
  • Earn the necessary qualifications required by federal, state and local regulatory agencies before starting related work
  • Only attach or authorize the use of their seal, stamp or signature when the document is prepared by them or someone directly under their control

6. Uphold the Integrity of the Profession

Industrial Hygienists shall act responsibly to uphold the integrity of their profession.

  • Don’t do anything that will discredit the profession
  • Don’t lie to the public
  • Do not connect your name to a person or firm that you believe is being dishonest
  • Don’t lie about your education, experience or credentials
  • Don’t promote expertise or services in a way that misrepresents or leaves out a fact needed to keep the statement from being untrue
  • Do not allow employees or employers to misrepresent your professional background, expertise or services

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Other Safety School articles that examine the more academic concepts of occupational safety:

  • OSHA Inspections
  • Contact Release Training for NFPA 70E 2015
  • Scaffolding Code of Safe Practices
  • Emergency Response Plans for Permit Required Confined Spaces
  • Spotlighting the Importance of Checklists
  • Details of a Fully Developed Emergency Action Plan
  • The Six Guiding Principles of an Industrial Hygienist
  • Exactly How Does A Safety Manual Protect Your Company in an Inspection?
  • Who Is Covered (Or Not) By OSHA
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