There is no denying that the COVID-19 pandemic changed the world. Ever since COVID hit the world, everyone has responded a little bit differently. Some in drastic ways, others just had to make slight adjustments in the long run. While many of the behaviors that became commonplace during the pandemic eventually faded with the return to normal, there are plenty of factors in the professional world that were permanently changed.
Much of what occurred in those few years has served to set new policies and procedures at a social, state, federal, and corporate levels. The standards for health and safety that, though they were certainly considered important in the past, have now become vital in some instances.
Industrial hygiene is the study, science, and application of protecting people in the public and private sectors. The overall goal of these employees is to identify, control, abate, and lessen potential risks and dangers that accompany specific environments.
Being that every work environment is just a little bit different, and the demands and needs of certain places change drastically from workplace to workplace, there is a value on this type of professional perspective that is perhaps more important than ever.
Industrial Hygiene at a Glance
Industrial hygienists are deeply invested and tasked with the study, analysis, and implementation of standards by which workplaces can best protect their employees and the customers they serve by establishing and maintaining healthy practices. These professionals do their best to identify, track, and create systems or procedures which best mitigate the chances of dangerous or hazardous workplace conditions.
There are five primary categories in industrial hygiene: Chemical, ergonomic, physical, and biological hazards as well as airborne contamination. Being that every work environment has at least one of these categories present, but more often than not includes multiples of these categories, the need for well trained, industrial hygienists invested in continuing education will always be around.
It is for this obvious reason that there is a solid demand for industrial hygienists, and now more than ever. As such, here are some reasons why industrial hygiene is a smart career move in today’s health-conscious world.
Industrial Hygiene makes a Difference
The world before industrial hygiene standards were not just dark, they were literally dangerous. This is one of the oldest professions known to man. While it may not have always gone by its modern designation, there is evidence throughout antiquity that there have been movements whereby the health standards of workers came under threat.
One of the earliest such examples was in the 4th century BC when Hippocrates made the connection between the presence of lead in mines and ailing workers. In the 1st century AD, a Roman scholar noted that there were health risks for workers handling zinc and sulfur compounds. His discovery also led to the invention of a type of face mask which was meant to protect workers from the dust and fumes of those mines.
Similar examples can be traced through the Middle Ages until, in 1700, a man named Bernardo Ramazzini published what is now considered one of the first books on the topic. From that point forward, most modern civilizations from London, Rome, Paris, and the Americas, all had their own defining moments which contributed to raising and advocating a greater awareness for the necessity of protection for workers. It wasn’t until the early 1900’s though that the U.S. began putting those observations into national legislation.
It is as a result of those legislations that today, most every employer is required to maintain industrial hygiene standards that are regulated by OSHA or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Lives have been helped and saved because of these reports and laws.
A Growing Demand
It has already been stated in multiple ways that industrial hygiene is an important factor in nearly every workplace environment. The noteworthy history and the effectiveness of the observations and policies which have been instituted over the millennia can and should be combined with the more recent statistical results that have arisen as a result of the COVID pandemic: The overall employment outlook for occupational health and safety specialists is expected to grow by 13% in the next 9 years.
This, along with the reality of many current workers are about to retire, means that there will be a great demand for the influx of new, qualified industrial hygienists. Between the growing demand and the proven necessity of such work, the career path into industrial hygiene is a smart choice.