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What is Industrial Hygiene?

October 20, 2021

Over centuries of activism and hard labor, industrial hygiene has become a staple and a standard in maintaining safety guidelines for workplaces everywhere. An article by the American Board of Industrial Hygiene (ABIH) defines the practice as “the science of protecting and enhancing the health and safety of people at work and in their communities.” Specialists in industrial hygiene are specifically trained to recognize the many hazards that could arise in various workspaces, and to take the action required to fix and stabilize the problem.

Not only is it important for these specialists to recognize when a problem is occurring, but also when a hazard has the potential to occur. Taking preventative measures before the danger arises is key to ensuring the safety of all workers and members in a community.

Of course, the standard of workplace safety we know today was not always in place, and certainly not enforced. The ABIH article states that it wasn’t until the early 1900’s that industrial hygiene became a popularized term, and that “[s]ince there were few ‘industrial hygienists,’ [during that time] organizations began to use their Scientists (e.g. chemists, toxicologists, physicians, engineers) to evaluate and improve the health of the work environment.”

The definition of what a “hazard” is has expanded exponentially from that day and age, moving from concentrating on chemical and noise to include air, fumes and gases, dust and fibers, physical danger, ergonomic danger, and plenty of others.

Even with decades of incredible progress during which industrial hygiene has been explored and promoted, the modern age still has issues in the field. The ABIH article explains that the law does not define what an industrial hygienist is, and so “anyone, regardless of knowledge and competency, can call themselves” one.

To help in setting a standard for the industrial hygiene industry, ABIH created a voluntary professional certification program in 1960, a program that “ensure[s] a minimum level of knowledge and skills in industrial hygiene.

Since then, thousands of schools and programs have been made to provide the necessary education to turn people into experts on analyzing, identifying, and preventing workplace and community dangers in any area. Without these professionals, countless health and safety dangers would be left unchecked, leading to illness, injury, and loss of life.

Careers in industrial hygiene are needed all over the country, including occupational hygienists, occupational health experts, environmental health experts, and health and safety regulators. These experts have become valued staples in the modern era, and with an average yearly income of $89,238 according to, that hard work is sure to be thanked.

Capitol Tech offers many opportunities in construction, facilities, and safety that relate and lead to careers in industrial hygiene. To learn more about these programs, many of which are available on campus and online, contact