Industrial Hygiene and Occupational Health in Manufacturing Facilities


Industrial Hygiene and Occupational Health in Manufacturing Facilities
By Muhamad Ghazi Athira

COVID-19 has highlighted the critical necessity of workplace health and cleanliness. Organizations that remained open during the pandemic, as well as those that reopened more recently, were required to develop additional safety practices and regulations to protect their employees. Companies in many industries have had to take efforts to avoid COVID-19 transmission in the workplace and ensure that employees who catch the disease do not spread it to others.

Industrial hygiene and occupational health are critical to safeguarding workers’ safety and well-being in production plants. Given the complexity of modern industrial processes and the diversity of dangers prevalent in these environments, efficient industrial hygiene and occupational health management is critical for preventing workplace injuries, illnesses, and long-term health consequences.

Industrial hygiene is the process of identifying, evaluating, and controlling workplace dangers that could endanger workers’ health. Chemical, physical, biological, and ergonomic risks may all exist. Workers in industrial plants may face a variety of dangers, including airborne pollutants, noise, vibration, repetitive motion, and mechanical hazards caused by machines.

Occupational health focuses to promote and sustain workers’ physical, mental, and social well-being in the workplace. It includes preventative measures, health surveillance, and medical interventions to keep workers safe from work-related health hazards. In manufacturing settings, occupational health programs are designed to address specific health risks connected to the nature of the work, exposure to hazardous substances, and ergonomic factors.

The following are some common hazards that occur in manufacturing facilities:

  1. Chemical Hazards: Workers at manufacturing facilities may be exposed to a variety of chemicals used in production processes. These compounds can cause lung irritation, skin sensitivity, and potentially long-term health consequences such as cancer or reproductive issues.
  2. Physical Hazards: Machinery and equipment in manufacturing facilities can present physical hazards such as moving parts, falling objects, or exposure to extreme temperatures. Failure to control these hazards can lead to serious injuries such as cuts, fractures, or burns.
  3. Biological Hazards: Some manufacturing processes may involve exposure to biological agents such as bacteria, viruses, or fungi. Workers in industries like pharmaceuticals or food processing may face risks of infection or allergic reactions if proper hygiene and control measures are not in place.
  4. Ergonomic Hazards: Repetitive tasks, awkward postures, or heavy lifting can contribute to ergonomic hazards in manufacturing jobs. These hazards can lead to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) like carpal tunnel syndrome, back injuries, or tendonitis if not addressed through ergonomic design and work practices.

The following are how to manage industrial hygiene and occupational health risks:

  1. Risk Assessment: Conduct thorough assessments to identify potential hazards in the workplace, evaluate the level of risk, and prioritize control measures accordingly.
  2. Engineering Controls: Implement engineering controls such as ventilation systems, enclosure of machinery, or substitution of hazardous materials to minimize exposure to workplace hazards.
  3. Administrative Controls: Develop and enforce policies, procedures, and training programs to promote safe work practices, proper handling of hazardous substances, and ergonomic principles.
  4. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Provide appropriate PPE, including respiratory protection, protective clothing, eyewear, and hearing protection, to mitigate risks when engineering or administrative controls are not feasible or sufficient.
  5. Health Surveillance: Establish health surveillance programs to monitor workers’ health, detect early signs of occupational diseases or injuries, and provide timely medical interventions or accommodations.
  6. Employee Involvement: Encourage active participation and feedback from workers regarding safety concerns, ergonomic issues, and suggestions for improvement to foster a culture of safety and well-being.

There are numbers of benefits from industrial hygiene. Some of them are:

  1. Increased productivity: Employees who are concerned about their health and safety at work, or who are frequently weary owing to environmental conditions, can suffer from decreased productivity. Investing in workplace safety can alleviate these issues, allowing employees to dedicate more time and attention to their jobs.
  2. Lower healthcare cost: In workplaces where employees are regularly injured or sick, there is a high volume of medical and workers’ compensation claims, both of which are costly. Prioritizing health and safety can assist to control these expenditures.
  3. Reduced recruitment and training cost: When employee safety is prioritized, it minimizes turnover and the need to replace workers. This drastically reduces the costs of recruitment, onboarding, and training.

To summarize, industrial hygiene and occupational health are critical components of maintaining a safe and healthy work environment in manufacturing facilities. Organizations may protect their employees’ well-being while also increasing overall productivity and sustainability in the manufacturing business by detecting dangers, implementing control measures, and promoting proactive health management practices.

What is industrial hygiene?. Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. (2021, November 10).,such%20as%20fumes%20and%20vapors