Industrial Hygiene Recap

This is the third in a series of blogs on industrial hygiene.  The first one explained that industrial hygiene was the recognition, evaluation, and control of hazards in the workplace.  The second blog defined a hazard as a source of danger or an agent which has the potential to cause to harm to a vulnerable target.  Sources of hazards were identified in manufacturing, construction, maritime, office, and other workplaces.  The current blog will focus on the recognition of hazards.

What is Hazard Recognition?

hazard recognitionThe application of the term recognition in the industrial hygiene field is the identification of a hazard.  It may be one that is obvious and you are familiar with or it may be hidden and unknown to you.  An example of a known obvious hazard would be a dust cloud surrounding a worker dry sawing concrete.  Most people would recognize the dust as being a potential respiratory hazard and many would take it a step further and recognize that the silica most likely in the dust can cause silicosis.  On the other hand, a hidden hazard may be an oxygen deficient atmosphere in a confined space.  You cannot see the oxygen deficiency and you may not be aware that it is a potential hazard.  However, the atmosphere could result in asphyxiation and death.

How Do You Recognize Hazards?

First, review the task or operation.  Analyze each step from start to finish.  Begin with the materials, equipment, and procedures.  Review available information and data on Safety Data Sheets, Technical Data Sheets, hazardous materials guides and handbooks, and peer reviewed published literature.  Of particular assistance are the guidelines issued by the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA, and the National Institute of Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH,  You should also discuss the operation with peers, cohorts, agency personnel, laboratory directors, and others.  Identify regulatory and industry limits for chemicals and dust in the air.  Break the task or operation down into sequential steps (i.e., like a manufacturing method).  Identify the hazards associated with each step and determine which ones are most important in terms of the likelihood of their occurrence and the severity of their hazards.

What Does All That Mean?

Well, a picture (aka an illustration) is worth a thousand words.  So, you need an example.  And that will be the subject of our next industrial hygiene blog.

esc Hazard RecognitionSo that is what hazard recognition in industrial hygiene is.  In our next blog in this series, we will walk you through an example of identifying the potential hazards in an actual industrial operation.  After that, we will delve into evaluating the hazards.  That process often includes industrial hygiene testing.  In the meantime, if you need any help, Environmental Safety Consultants ( is here.  We are a Florida licensed environmental engineering company with a CIH on staff.  We have the credentials and experience to help you complete your industrial hygiene project.  We have a proven track record with a Florida licensed environmental engineer and mold assessors, plus degreed environmental scientists on staff.  We specialize in industrial hygiene, indoor air quality, asbestos, lead paint, silica, noise, and more.  We are just a telephone call (800-226-1735) or an e-mail away (  Contact us today!