Why is Occupational Hygiene Important?
Whilst many of the occupational challenges of the past such as asbestos, lead, crystalline silica and solvents are still with us, albeit in a more controlled environment, these days the range of health risks in the workplace is more varied than ever. Not only do we recognise chemical hazards but also the health hazards from noise, heat or cold, ergonomic stresses, ionising radiation, microwaves, infectious diseases and psychological stress. Occupational hygienists have to protect workers from hazards posed by advanced technologies such as semiconductor manufacture and highly potent pharmaceuticals. We have to anticipate the risks from nano, gene and other emerging technologies. We have to consider the impact of changing demographics and patterns of employment. Occupational hygiene is a constantly changing and challenging profession, and is an integral and important aspect of modern progressive business practice.
Good occupational hygiene benefits workers and industry alike, resulting in:
- Improved worker health and increased life expectancy;
- Reduction in the number of people who leave employment early through injury or illness;
- Lower social and health care costs as well as maximising worker potential; and
- More efficient working processes with technological improvements and increased productivity.