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What is a Certified Industrial Hygienist?

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Apr 23, 2010 5:47:54 AM

Sarah Stibbe Damaskos
Where were you the first time that someone casually mentioned that they were a Certified Industrial Hygienist? Chances are you immediately pictured some type of space-suited dental hygienist flossing the world’s most horrific tooth grunge.  Or maybe you heard the term “industrial hygiene” and the frightening image of super-sized Teflon underwear floated into your head?  The good news is that you were almost right – conceptually.

Certified Industrial Hygienists (“CIH”) are cool. Sometimes they do get to wear Major Tom kind of protective clothing and poke around dirty places but most of the time they’re more like a squad of Super Safety People and their goal is to protect you.  According to the American Board of Industrial Hygiene ( “Industrial hygiene is the science of protecting and enhancing the health and safety of people at work and in their communities.” 

Industrial hygienists (rather than be called Super Safety People which is so much better for T-shirts) fall into a large group more commonly known as Environmental, Health and Safety experts but CIH focus exclusively on Health – Occupational Health and Environmental Health.

The American Industrial Hygiene Association ( has created this handy list of typical EHS roles: 

  • Investigate and examine the workplace for hazards and potential dangers

  • Make recommendations on improving the safety of workers and the surrounding community

  • Conduct scientific research to provide data on possible harmful conditions in the workplace

  • Develop techniques to anticipate and control potentially dangerous situations in the workplace and the community

  • Train and educate the community about job-related risks

  • Advise government officials and participating in the development of regulations to ensure the health and safety of workers and their families

  • Ensure that workers are properly following health and safety procedures 

Essentially it means that a group of highly-trained, certified professional are able to prevent, investigate and address work and community safety issues so that you can live a longer, healthier life.  Specifically, industrial hygienists are focused on

  • Chemical, Biological, Physical and Other Hazardous Agent Exposure

  • Emergency Response Planning

  • Community Impact and Awareness

  • Workplace Conditions / Occupational Safety

  • Detection, Planning and Control

If you own a business and your operation has the potential to expose employees or subcontractors or neighbors to possible health hazards, you need an industrial hygienist to reduce your risk, save money and, of course, offer everyone peace of mind. If you would rather pretend that environmental, safety or health issues are not important, I suggest you purchase a pair of Teflon underwear and super-size it.

How do you feel about being called an Industrial Hygienist? What would be an improved or more descriptive job title?

Topics: Emilcott, indoor air quality, health and safety, General Industry H&S, Construction H&S, Emergency Response, H&S Training, Hazardous Waste Management, Compliance, worker safety, Lab Safety & Electrical, Fire Safety, Public Safety, Working Green

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