We get this question a lot: – “What in the World is an industrial hygienist?” No! We do not clean teeth!
To answer this we are providing information taken from the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) and the American Board of Industrial Hygiene (ABIH) official web pages. These are the two premier groups that represent the industrial hygiene profession.
Industrial Hygiene: Science and art devoted to the anticipation, recognition, evaluation, prevention, 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 among workers or among citizens of the community.
Industrial hygienists are scientists and engineers committed to protecting the health and safety of people in the workplace and the community.
A professional industrial hygienist is a person possessing either a baccalaureate degree in engineering, chemistry, or physics or a baccalaureate degree in a closely related biological or physical science from an accredited college or university, who also has a minimum of three years of industrial hygiene experience. A completed doctoral in a related physical, biological or medical science or in related engineering can be substituted for two years of the three-year requirement. A completed master's degree in a related physical or biological science or in related engineering can be substituted for one year of the three-year requirement. Under no circumstances can more than two years of graduate training be applied toward the three-year period.
Today, there are other terms that essentially mean the same thing as industrial hygiene, e.g., Occupational Hygiene, Occupational Health, Environment, Health & Safety (EHS).
Since the term Industrial Hygienist has not been restricted by law, anyone, regardless of knowledge and competency, can call themselves an “Industrial Hygienist”. To aid employers and the public, a voluntary professional certification program was established in 1960. The American Board of Industrial Hygiene (ABIH) was established as an independent corporation with the sole purpose of providing a certification program that ensured a minimum level of knowledge and skills in industrial hygiene. The ABIH program has since become the world’s largest, premier certification scheme for Industrial Hygienists. Certification is a professional milestone, providing a 3rd party, independent indicator of achievement.
Our next article will provide information about what a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) is.
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