A meeting of IOSH’s Edinburgh branch heard about the types of health hazards that occupational hygienists are trained to evaluate and control, and how these skills can support safety managers.
Rupert Balfry, a director and occupational hygiene consultant at Viridis Safety, said occupational hygiene is “a key part of effective worker health protection”.
He said: “Occupational hygienists have the specialist knowledge and skills to both properly evaluate the risks posed by health hazards in the workplace and to advise on suitable methods of controlling exposure.”
During his presentation, Rupert, treasurer at the Edinburgh Branch, outlined the types of health hazard that are common in many workplaces. These included: chemical agents such as dust, gases, vapours, and fumes; physical agents like noise, vibration, radiation and extremes of temperature; and biological agents such as bacteria and fungi.
He explained there are several routes of exposure for hazardous substances including inhalation, skin absorption and ingestion, all of which must be considered when assessing risk to worker health and implementing control measures to limit exposure.
The presentation, held at Edinburgh Napier University on Thursday 14 January, went on to look at a series of site photos with the audience asked to identify the health hazards present.
Rupert added: “With at least 13,000 people dying prematurely each year due to occupational disease and many more being adversely affected by it, UK businesses, supported by the health and safety sector, must do more to protect workers.”
The session also cited the importance of campaigns like IOSH’s No Time To Lose and the British Occupational Hygiene Society’s (BOHS) initiative Breathe Freely in increasing manager and worker awareness of the risks to health in workplaces.
Breathe Freely is a collaborative initiative, led by BOHS in partnership with Constructing Better Health, the HSE and others, which aims to help prevent lung disease in construction workers.
For more information on Breathe Freely visit http://www.breathefreely.org.uk/
Image: Rupert Balfry says occupational hygienists bring huge benefits for businesses.