Occupational Hygienist | Workplace Survey

How an IOH Solutions Occupational Hygienist Can Ensure a Safe Workplace for Your Employees

A workplace can harbour many hidden hazards. An occupational hygienist can identify and evaluate them and propose measures to ensure staff health and safety. Absenteeism has become a severe problem in many countries, including South Africa. Estimates of the cost to local industries vary from around R12 billion to more than R16 billion annually. Regardless of which figure might be more accurate, continuing to sustain these annual losses could pose a significant threat to efforts to improve the country’s economy.

Of course, some of these absences are unjustified on health grounds and simply a means to escape work routines, deal with familial responsibilities or other purely personal reasons. Nevertheless, an unacceptably high percentage of absenteeism results from work-related injuries and illnesses, most of which could be avoided with suitable precautions. However, before a company can adopt such measures, it is first necessary to identify any potential hazards that might carry the threat of injury or illness.


An Occupational Hygienist Will Conduct an Expert On-Site Inspection

The purpose of the workplace survey or risk assessment is threefold and begins by identifying potential dangers to health and safety in all areas where employees must work. Our IOH professionals have gained experience in many different industries and their most common hazards. Nevertheless, each workplace is unique. Thus, before beginning their inspection, they will liaise with their client’s management and employees to obtain any additional information that might prove relevant. Typically, they will look for four types of hazards as follows:

  • Physical: Most potential dangers to employee health and safety fall into this category. These include the absence of handrails on stairs, ramps or ladders and missing guardrails on potentially dangerous machinery. Poorly-insulated or faulty electrical wiring is another cause for concern, as are slippery floors due to repeated spillages. Equipment that subjects users to sustained vibration carries the risk of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), while repeated and prolonged exposure to noise levels greater than 85 decibels that could result in permanent hearing loss
  • Chemical: This category covers harmful gases like ammonia, chlorine and carbon monoxide and suspended particles like dust and asbestos fibres. Heavy metals, such as lead, mercury and cadmium, may also pose a threat, as do radioactive materials like uranium and radon.
  • Biological: Outside of the laboratory, the most frequent biological threat to workers is the presence of Legionella in the water supply, which could expose staff to a severe and potentially fatal type of pneumonia.
  • Ergonomic: Poor seating and tasks that involve repeated bending, stretching or lifting heavy items frequently result in MSDs and, consequently, can increase the likelihood of accidents.

The Goals of an Occupational Hygienist

After identifying all potential hazards in your workplace through sampling, monitoring and laboratory analysis, these specialists have two further goals. They will evaluate each identified hazard to determine if it poses a significant risk to workers in the affected areas. Based on these findings, our experts will decide if countermeasures are required and suggest management strategies where indicated.

An IOH workplace survey could limit absenteeism, increase production and avoid the cost of paid sick leave or crippling industrial compensation claims. Contact us today to start protecting your workers and your business.

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