There is a real opportunity for occupational health and occupational hygiene to collaborate more closely. These CPD activities aim to help develop knowledge in this area and should be completed after reading this article.
The joint TUC/British Occupational Hygiene Society publication Occupational hygiene explained – A guide for union health and safety representatives provides an overview of occupational hygiene.
Although primarily intended for safety representatives, it is a useful reminder of the role and function of occupational hygienists.
Read the document and then reflect on how you might explain the role of a hygienist to a newly recruited and inexperienced member of the occupational health team.
Think about how Covid-19 affected working practices within those workplaces that operated throughout the pandemic. Were you aware of the resources available on the British Occupational Hygiene Society’s web page?
Reflect on how your organisation dealt with the Covid pandemic. Which resources did you need in relation to the advice you were able to give?
Look at the BOHS Covid-19 hub and think about how these relate to the requirements of your organisation.
A newly appointed manager for ‘Vulcan’, an small to medium-sized business, has asked for your advice regarding environmental monitoring and health surveillance for the business which has just recruited him.
The company deals with repairs and resprays to small and large vehicles, including ambulances that are operated by a non-NHS provider.
It appears that the person the manager replaced demonstrated a poor understanding of the management of health and safety in this place of work. As an illustration, the new manager commented that the area where the paints for vehicle re-spray are mixed is very poorly ventilated.
He noted a very strong chemical smell in that area. Further discussion revealed that there was poor ventilation; there was no local exhaust ventilation, just a large fan and an open window.
The manager was particularly worried that people were standing outside and close to that window in order to smoke during their work breaks.
In addition to the above issue of concern, a variety of work processes can expose their staff to a range of hazards, including those of an ergonomic biological, chemical, and physical nature.
It becomes apparent that, despite there being a significant potential for exposure to solvents, dusts, noise and vibration, there is little evidence of an appreciation and therefore the application of the higher levels within the hierarchy of control pyramid.
How would you explain the relevance of the skills of an occupational hygienist to help the organisation identify, assess and find solutions to the control of workplace health hazards to manage associated health risks?
If you need to update yourself about the principles of the hierarchy of controls these videos explain the principles which underpin the hierarchy of control:
Reflect on your current role. Are there any opportunities for multi-professional working with occupational hygiene?
What are/might have been the benefits of such collaborations?
Watch these videos which provide further information about occupational hygiene:
Institution of Occupational Health and Safety (IOSH):
Phil Roberts, principal specialist inspector (occupational hygiene) at the Health and Safety Executive, explains the contribution of occupational hygiene to health risk management.
British Occupational Hygiene Society:
This video produced by the British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS) explains the health benefits of occupational hygiene.
This BOHS video gives an insight into the role and function of an occupational hygienist:
This interview by Kevin Brampton, CEO of the BOHS, with Sarah Leeson, BOHS registrar, explores how occupational hygiene might further develop as a profession.