The Importance of Occupational Hygiene in Maintaining a Safe Workplace
Employers must legally maintain a safe and healthy workplace. Many seek professional assistance from an occupational hygiene specialist to help them comply. In the past, the concern by employers for their worker safety and wellbeing was somewhat variable.
While many were unaware of the potential hazards that existed on their premises, others merely chose to ignore them. However, the launch of new government legislation in the early ‘90s called for greater responsibility from employers, mandating them to do whatever might be necessary to eliminate or, where this is not possible, to minimise the risk of work-related injuries and illness.
In addition to addressing the employer’s responsibilities, the Occupational Health and Safety Act (No 85 of 1993) also made provision for training specialised technical personnel to assist them. While some chose to send one or two staff members for training, most prefer to rely on assistance with occupational hygiene matters from a dedicated third-party service provider such as IOH Solutions.
Understanding the Basics of Occupational Hygiene
The fundamental role of these specialists is threefold. They must search for and identify any hazards present in the working environment, assess the level of risk they represent and, where applicable, make recommendations about how to eliminate or minimise any harmful impact on exposed employees.
Workplace hazards are defined as anything known to pose a potential threat to health or safety and could be physical, chemical, biological, ergonomic, or psychological. A trained specialist will conduct a health risk assessment, which may address some or all of the above categories as deemed necessary.
IOH Solutions Offers a Wide Selection of Occupational Hygiene Services
Most modern industries are associated with specific hazards. For example, intense vibrations and prolonged exposure to loud noise are common in the construction industry. Also, air quality could be compromised if airborne particles are released. The following are just three of the expert inspection services undertaken by IOH Solutions:
- Hazardous chemical agents: First, we collect air samples at intervals over an 8-hour period. Then, we conduct a laboratory analysis to identify and quantify any harmful chemicals present and compare their concentration with acceptable occupation exposure limits to determine whether intervention is required.
- Noise monitoring: Noise-induced hearing loss is now the most common cause of deafness and is responsible for the majority of industrial compensation claims. Eight hours of exposure to 85 decibels is sufficient to cause permanent impairment, and the effect is cumulative. We employ specialised noise dosimetry equipment to ensure ambient and personal exposure levels comply with government regulations.
- Workplace ergonomics: Workers often experience high levels of physical stress or discomfort when performing some tasks. They can become fatigued, increasing the risk of accidents, and in the longer term, they could develop musculoskeletal disorders like tendonitis, carpel tunnel syndrome or a herniated lumbar disk. An ergonomic survey can expose such risks and help to redesign tasks and adjust working conditions to mitigate them.
What Occupational Hygiene Can Do for Your Business?
Healthy workers are more productive, and when employers have their interests at heart, they are also more loyal. Save on sick pay and temporary staff. If you are in Gauteng, the Eastern or Western Cape, contact us today to ensure your workforce remains safe, healthy and productive.