Industrial hygienist jobs typically are filled by applied scientists or engineers who are specialized in keeping workers, their families, and the community safe and healthy. Industrial hygienist jobs can be found in government service and private industry. These workers fill a vital role in assessing and monitoring workplace safety, though industrial hygienist jobs can vary depending on the type of workplace and industry on which the hygienist is focused. Typical jobs an industrial hygienist may find himself doing include investigating the workplace for potential hazards and threats, conducting research on chemicals in the workplace, and making recommendations to increase worker and community safety.
Industrial hygienist jobs are primarily scientific in the way they approach worker safety and seek to mitigate or lessen workplace hazards. The scientists and engineers who fill these jobs typically get additional training in industrial hygiene. At the same time, they will often use applied scientific research methods to determine what hazards or potential hazards may be present in a work environment.
A primary job an industrial hygienist may perform is called a work-site analysis. This is an overall assessment of a workplace to determine what specific jobs, work processes and areas may lead to potential problems. During this type of analysis, an industrial hygienist will look for environmental stressors and may measure chemicals and particles that are present, trying to identify any potential hazards to workers in the area. In addition, the hygienist may look at work procedures and processes to identify potential risks. A full work-site analysis conducted by an industrial hygienist would seek to include all jobs, tasks, and potential work activities at the particular work site.
Industrial hygienist jobs may also include investigating potentially harmful situations on the job and devising strategies to lessen or eliminate them. In addition, industrial hygienists may conduct training for workers, their families, and the community on how to recognize a harmful situation at work or at home and what to do to deal with a dangerous or harmful situation if it arises. Through a methodical process of inspection, research and analysis, an industrial hygienist works to make the work site safer. A situation that is deemed hazardous or potentially threatening to health or safety may lead the industrial hygienist to recommend appropriate corrective actions.
Along with these hands-on jobs, an industrial hygienist also may advise managers and the government about how to create safer work environments. An industrial hygienist also may be charged with planning a company's response to various emergency situations, ensuring safe interior air quality, mitigating environmental lead exposure, and determining how to handle any other potential workplace hazards. The bottom line is that an industrial hygienist, like any hygienist, is charged with keeping something clean, safe and healthy — in this instance, it's a particular company or, possibly, an entire industry.