What is a certified industrial hygienist? do i need one?

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Courtesy of Atlantic Environmental, Inc.

The first question is: What is an Industrial Hygienist?  The simplest definition is:  A person whose job it is to protect the health of workers and the general public.  Through education and experience an Industrial Hygienist has the ability to recognize health hazards, test the environment for those hazards, determine if there is a risk to human health in a particular situation, and recommend controls or means of protection from the recognized health hazard.

An Industrial Hygienist may be able to perform one or more of these activities.  A Certified Industrial Hygienist (often referred to as a CIH) is one who has a minimum level of education (a bachelors degree in science or engineering – or greater), a minimum of 4 years of experience as a full time practitioner in industrial hygiene, a minimum amount of specific formal education in industrial hygiene subjects, and passing a very rigorous national exam.

A Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) should be knowledgeable in all aspects of protection of the health of workers and the general public.  However, many CIH’s are employed by corporations and government agencies and they generally are involved in a narrower list of activities and responsibilities.

The independent group that certifies Industrial Hygienists is the American Board of Industrial Hygiene.  You can search their roster to determine if a particular person is actually a CIH by going to www.ABIH.org – go to “Search” then “public roster” and add in the name or other details about the individual.

If you’re concerned about whether your factory, warehouse, office, public building, or residence has something that may adversely affect your health then a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) is a good choice.  It may not be necessary to retain a CIH to do testing work (as a cost control measure) but it is always best to have that work done by an Industrial Hygienist who is under the direct supervision of a Certified Industrial Hygienist.  That way you are insuring that an expert is ultimately responsible for the quality of the work.

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