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FAIRFAX, Va. -- When Americans go back to work after Labor Day approximately 50 American workers will be injured on the job every minute of the day and almost 17 will die, according to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration. Each worker assumes that they will return home at the end of their shift as healthy as they were at the beginning. For some, that will not be the case. The good news is that due to changes in the workplace and the diligence of Occupational and Environmental Health and Safety (OEHS) professionals, that number has dropped by half since 1970.
Keeping workers safe is a number one priority for industrial hygiene (IH) professionals. Also referred to as occupational and environmental health and safety (OEHS) professionals, their job is to preserve the health and well being of workers, the community and the environment.
"Taking care of workers, and the surrounding community, is the main objective of OEHS professionals," said Gayla McCluskey, CIH, CSP, ROH, QEP, president of the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA). "Our job is to protect working mothers, fathers, sons and daughters; making sure they live and work in a safe environment."
Industrial Hygienists deal with the health and safety challenges facing people everywhere. Some of the issues they face include: indoor air quality, mold, asbestos, radiation and hazardous waste materials. They are often one of the first people on the scene of a potentially dangerous work or environmental accident. IHs play a vital part in ensuring that federal, state, and local laws and regulations are followed in a work environment.
"Industrial hygienists work on the frontlines in day-to-day and disaster situations," explained McCluskey. "They take air, water and surface samples and test for the presence of harmful chemicals, particles or bacteria. They evaluate dangers from machinery in factories, advise on fall protection in construction sites and many other hazards most people don't think about. Industrial hygiene is a blend of science, good judgment, creativity and human interaction."
If you have questions about safety in your workplace, find out if your workplace has an OEHS professional on staff or contact a local OEHS association. For further information on industrial hygiene, visit http://www.aiha.org/ . AIHA offers free online brochures on workplace safety and many consumer topics. You can find more information about worker safety at http://www.osha.gov/ .
Founded in 1939, the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) is the premier association of occupational and environmental health and safety professionals. AIHA's 12,000 members play a crucial role on the front line of worker health and safety every day. Members represent a cross-section of industry, private business, labor, government and academia.