The Future of Industrial Hygiene

Industrial hygiene as a profession and practice has been evolving as new technologies, innovations and concepts become available. Frameworks and approaches, such as Total Worker Health (TWH), first introduced in 2011, are now beginning to be recognized, understood and incorporated in risk evaluations inside and outside the workplace to build a healthy workforce.

Tools such as Precision Public Health (PPH), defined as the use of data and evidence to tailor interventions to the characteristics of a specific population, is another area where the field is evolving. PPH relies on big data and data science to drive public health assessment, policy, and implementation activities. The use of Big Data, Information Technology (IT) & Predictive Analysis can be used to recognize similar exposure groups (SEGs) to better predict exposure risks.

High-tech tools like Microsensors come in 3 broad categories: placeable, wearable, and implantable devices that can provide more immediate data leading to faster response times where workers have known health risks. Sensors that look outward from the worker such as belt-worn environmental sensors to measure air quality, moisture, VOCs, and seismicity can detect harmful chemical, physical, or biologic agents in a work environment. Sensors that look inward to the worker such as biosensors – cardioverter defibrillators, orthopedic prosthetics to measure strain and force data, and microchips to monitor tissue oxygen levels, can detect and quantify a wide range of physiological events within the body in real-time may have further application in clinical diagnosis and in the future of work.

Total Worker Health (TWH) – The Total Worker Health (TWH) approach takes occupational safety and health to the next level to encompass broader workforce health concerns such as stress, chronic diseases, and working and living in old age. TWH integrates workplace safety efforts with a broad spectrum of opportunities and interventions to improve overall worker health and well-being. NIOSH defines TWH as “policies, programs and practices that integrate protection from work-related safety and health hazards with promotion of injury and illness to advance worker well-being”.

Contact RHP Risk Management to work with our Certified Industrial Hygienists (CIHs) and Certified Safety Professionals (CSPs) to ensure employee safety and OSHA compliance within your industrial, manufacturing, commercial and laboratory settings. RHP professionals have substantial, wide-ranging experience in the performance of evaluations for regulatory and environmental as well as health and safety compliance, audits, and surveys. Contact RHP by calling (773) 867-6010.