Written by Steve Hudgik
"Occupational Hygiene" is the term used in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth countries, as well as most of Europe, in the same way the term "industrial hygiene" is used in the U.S. However, "occupational hygiene" can include a broader scope by including non-industrial workplaces such as banks, stores and restaurants.
Occupational hygiene involves anticipating, recognizing, evaluating and controlling workplace conditions that may cause illness or injury. Occupational hygienists monitor the workplace and use analytical methods to detect harmful conditions or materials in the workplace, and they devise methods to eliminate or control those hazardous conditions.
Occupational Hygiene - Health And Safety Management Program
Being proactive in taking steps to protect employee health and safety is critical in reducing work-related injuries and illnesses. This involves establishing a safety and health management program for each workplace. There are five general elements that are critical to a successful safety and health management program:
- management commitment
- employee involvement
- conducting a worksite analysis (job hazard analysis)
- hazard prevention and control
- safety and health training
Occupational Hygiene - Must Be Site Specific
An effective safety and health management system must be designed to meet a particular site's unique needs. The management system must do more than meet legal safety and health requirements. It must proactively identify and analyze potential hazards, identifying problems before someone's health or safety is affected. The goal of an effective health and safety management program is to prevent injuries and illnesses, even when compliance is not at issue.
The purpose of occupational hygiene is to systematically identify, evaluate, and prevent or control general workplace hazards as well as the hazards of specific jobs and tasks.
A health and safety management system may be either written or oral. Oral systems work well in small organizations in which the work process is not complex. But, as the size or complexity of a workplace increases, the need for a written management system increases. A written system ensures safety and health rules/standards are not forgotten or ignored, and it provides for clear communication of responsibility, authority and priorities.
Occupational Hygiene - The Elements of A Health And Safety Management Program
The major components of an effective Health And Safety Management System include:
1. Management commitment to health and safety:
- There must be a clearly worded worksite policy on health and safety so that everyone understands the importance of protecting health and having a safe workplace.
- Management needs to establish clear and measurable goals for the health and safety program so that everyone understands the desired results and what needs to be done to achieve those results.
- Top management must be involved in implementing the health and system system to demonstrate management’s commitment.
- Management must not be exempt from complying with the health and safety system. All levels of employees, as well as contractors and visitors, must fully comply with all aspects of the health and safety system.
2. Employee Involvement:
- Employees must be involved in the creation and operation of the system, and in making the decisions that affect their safety and health. This gives them ownership, increases the understanding of the need for and the purpose of a health and safety system, and it improves compliance with the health and safety system that is established.
- There must be a clear assignment of responsibilities for all aspects of health and safety management. All managers, supervisors and employees must clearly understand what they need to do.
- Employees must be given appropriate authority and adequate resources so that they can perform their assigned responsibilities.
- Everyone, including managers, supervisors and employees, must be held accountable for meeting their responsibilities.
- There should be annual reviews to evaluate success in meeting the goals and objectives. Any deficiencies should be identified and the controls or objectives revised as needed.
3. Worksite Analysis:
Use a worksite analysis to identify all health and safety hazards. An analysis of individual jobs as well as the entire workplace, should be conducted.
- Perform a worksite analysis of any new facilities, processes, materials and equipment.
- Conduct an analysis of hazards associated with jobs, processes and phases of work.
- Conduct regular health and safety inspections to identify new or missed hazards, or areas in which hazard controls are not meeting their goals.
- Establish a reliable system to encourage employees, without fear of reprisal, to notify management, or the occupational hygiene department, about conditions that appear hazardous and so that they receive a timely and appropriate response.
- Conduct timely investigations of accidents, and “near miss” incidents, to determine their causes and take the necessary steps to prevent them, as well as similar incidents, from happening again.
- Conduct an analysis of injury and illness trends over extended periods to identify patterns and prevent problems.
4. Hazard Prevention and Control
- Use engineering controls to eliminate or minimize hazards.
- When engineering controls cannot be used, use work practice controls to alter the manner in which the work is done. This may include changing procedures, improging equipment maintenance or improving housekeeping practices.
- When engineering and work practice controls cannot be used, use administrative controls to limit exposure to hazards by:
- adjusting work schedules
- changing work practices
- Only when engineering, work practice and administrative controls cannot be effectively applied, use personal protective equipment.
- Hazard prevention and control should be implemented in a timely manner.
- When implementing hazard prevention and control systems, they should be designed to meet each workplace’s particular characteristics.
- Plan and prepare for emergencies. Conduct emergency training and drills.
- Establish a medical program that includes first aid and emergency medical care.
5. Safety and Health Training
- Train all employees, contract workers, and contractors and vendors, so that they understand the hazards they may be exposed to and how to prevent harm to themselves and others.
- Train supervisors and managers so that they understand their responsibilities and the reasons they have those responsibilities.
- Provide periodic refresher training for all employees.
- Provide first aid training, and establish a medical program for first aid and emergency medical care.
Occupational Hygiene - The Role Of Labels And Signs
Labels and signs are required to provide warnings about hazards. Labels are also required on any containers containing hazardous materials. In addition, labels and signs are an important tool for providing housekeeping information, equipment operating procedures, wayfinding (way guidance), pipe marking, and both equipment and location identification.
Labels and signs are also an important tool for communicating changes to procedures or work practices. Changing habits can be difficult. Labels and signs provide reminders about the new procedures right at the locations where those reminders are needed.
Having durable labels and signs, that continue to deliver their message year after year, is crucial. A missing health or safety sign can result in someone being injured. That's why choosing DuraLabel printers and DuraLabel tough-tested supplies is the right decision for improving safety. DuraLabel backs their claims to durability and quality with the best warranties in the industry, including a warranty on the vinyl labels and signs you make. No other brand offers a warranty like that.
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