Industrial Hygiene: improving worker health through an operational risk approach
16th May 2018
Employees and the public now expect higher standards in the workplace to reduce occupational illnesses. As the authors argue in this timely text: "There is now a growing pressure on companies to go beyond compliance in the way that they manage industrial hygiene."
The US legislation that emphasised the importance of the industrial hygienist, the Williams-Steiger Act, is the same one that established the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the American equivalent of the Health and Safety Executive in the UK.
Although this book deals primarily with the US context, the common principles and management process can be applied globally.
The demand for better workplace protection requires the modern OSH professional to advise intelligently on setting company goals and standards so that health risks are better controlled. Although there are other books that discuss how to perform and implement an occupational health programme, what tends not to be communicated, and is often misunderstood, is why these activities are performed.
The authors focus on implementing industrial hygiene using a risk-based approach in an operational environment. The key components include recognising, evaluating and controlling workplace hazards; medical monitoring; emergency response; training; and evaluating the programme.
There is a wealth of practical ideas on how to record processes in checklists, tables and templates. I also like the "questions to ponder for learning". There are up to 14 of these at the end of each chapter so the OSH professional can test their knowledge. It's a useful exercise for those who want to record their learning and use it for their continual professional development.
The main issue I have is that the chapters are short. The more experienced hygienist or OSH professional will probably feel short-changed, particularly given that the 171-page book costs £77, although there is a cheaper e-book rental option. I also suspect newcomers will find the content a little too technical.
Authors Alston, Millikin and Piispanen clearly have extensive knowledge and experience in this field, but I would have liked them to share a bit more of it, in particular how employer-led behavioural safety programmes can improve compliance with industrial hygiene issues.