Occupational hygiene

Keeping your workplace safe and healthy is our highest priority at Airsafe.

Our occupational hygiene professionals are experienced in anticipating, recognising, evaluating and controlling workplace and environmental hazards.

Fully certified and expert at meeting your occupational hygiene needs, Airsafe professionals have a particular emphasis on chemical, physical and biological hazards.

Get a comprehensive quote on your occupational hygiene needs »

All Airsafe Occupational Hygienists hold the following credentials:

  • Certified Occupational Hygienist (COH), Australian Institute of Occupational Hygienists (AIOH)
  • 95 Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH), American Board of Industrial Hygiene (ABIH)
  • 95 Member, Australian Institute of Dangerous Goods Consultants (AIDGC)

What is occupational hygiene?

Occupational hygiene is generally defined as the art and science dedicated to the anticipation, recognition, evaluation, communication and control of environmental stressors in, or arising from, the workplace. It's particularly concerned with stressors that may result in injury, illness or impairment, or may affect the wellbeing of workers and members of the community.

Environmental stressors in the workplace are normally divided into the following categories:

  • Biological
  • Chemical
  • Physical
  • Ergonomic
  • Psychosocial

Airsafe's occupational hygiene specialisations

Airsafe's occupational hygienists specialise in helping with issues relating to:

  • Airborne contaminants
  • Chemicals
  • Dangerous goods
  • Indoor environment
  • Hazardous and toxic waste
  • Heat stress
  • Noise

Get a comprehensive quote on your occupational hygiene needs »

The first step: hazard identification

Health hazard identification is the first step to developing an occupational hygiene program. This process allows occupational hygienists to develop a thorough list of the stressors that the workforce are potentially exposed to.

The assessment generally consists of a walk through survey to identify the issues, and to list the specific details of the potential for harm. The health hazard identification will need to be conducted in the workplace, ideally with input from the operational staff.

Airborne contaminants

An airborne contaminant is a contaminant in the form of a fume, mist, gas, vapour or dust, and includes microorganisms. An airborne contaminant of this nature is a potentially harmful substance that is either not naturally in the air, or one that is present in an unnaturally high concentration, and to which workers may be exposed in their working environment.

Airborne contaminants may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • carbon monoxide
  • inhalable dust
  • respirable dust
  • silica
  • man-made vitreous fibres
  • asbestos

Airsafe's monitoring system measures workers' personal exposure to chemicals and dusts by comparing results to Australia's published exposure standards.

airborne contaminants

Chemicals

Hazardous chemicals are substances, mixtures and materials that carry potential health and physicochemical risks and dangers.

There are several kinds of potential health hazards associated with chemicals. They can include skin irritants, carcinogens or respiratory sensitisers. Such hazards can affect a worker's health through direct contact with or exposure to the chemical, whether through inhalation, skin contact or ingestion.

Physicochemical hazards arise from physical and chemical properties: for example, flammable, corrosive, oxidising or explosive substances (see also "Dangerous Goods" below).

Legally, a person conducting a business or undertaking must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the health and safety of workers and other people are not put at risk from the business's use, handling or storage of hazardous chemicals.

The Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 implement a system of chemical hazard classification, labelling and safety data sheet requirements based on the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). Transition to the GHS is occurring over a five-year period from 1 January 2012 until 31 December 2016. For more information see the Safe Work Australia website.

Airsafe can help you make sure you comply with these regulations, including any changes you may need to make before December 2016.

hazardous chemicals

Dangerous goods

Dangerous goods are substances, mixtures or articles that, because of their physical, chemical (physicochemical) or acute toxicity properties, present an immediate hazard to people, property or the environment. Types of substances classified as dangerous goods include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • explosives
  • flammable liquids and gases
  • corrosives
  • chemically reactive or acutely (highly) toxic substances.

The specific criteria used to determine whether substances are classified as dangerous goods are contained in the Australian Code for the Transport of Dangerous Goods by Road and Rail (ADG Code). The ADG Code contains a list of Flammable and Combustible Liquids.

Airsafe provides expert advice on the use, storage and transport of dangerous goods.

dangerous goods

Indoor Environment

Today, many workers spend long periods of time indoors, in air-conditioned buildings. However, if the air conditioning system is not maintained, a number of problems, some potentially lethal, can occur. In fact, studies have show that increased sick leave and lower productivity can be related to poor heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. The human costs of poor air conditioning include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • viral illness
  • respiratory problems
  • Legionnaires Disease

Airsafe provides cost-effective, expert solutions for all indoor air quality issues.

air conditioning cooling tower

Hazardous and Toxic Waste

In the workplace, modern technology often requires the disposal of hazardous and toxic chemicals, a job that can become potentially dangerous if not carried out correctly.

Safe Work Australia states that, under the WHS Regulations, a hazardous chemical is any substance, mixture or article that satisfies the criteria of one or more Globalised Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) hazard classes, including a classification in Schedule 6 of the WHS Regulations.

The WHS Regulations include specific duties for a person conducting a business or undertaking to manage the risks to health and safety associated with using, handling, generating and storing hazardous chemicals at a workplace. The duties include:

  • correct labelling of containers and pipework, using warning placards and outer warning placards and displaying of safety signs
  • maintaining a register and manifest (where relevant) of hazardous chemicals
  • identifying risk of physical or chemical reaction of hazardous chemicals and ensuring the stability of hazardous chemicals
  • ensuring that exposure standards are not exceeded
  • provision of health monitoring to workers
  • provision of information, training, instruction and supervision to workers.

An Airsafe Occupational Hygienist can help you to meet the above demands of environmental protection, employee health and government regulations.

hazardous waste

Heat Stress

Working in intense heat can raise a person's normal body temperature, and in a worst-case scenario can lead to heat stroke and possible death. Heat stress and fatigue may also impair a worker's thinking and reaction times, which can in turn increase the risk of injury in the work place, for example, by making errors, dropping tools or stumbling. Due to our tough climate, Australian workers are particularly susceptible to ailments related to heat stress.

An Airsafe Occupation Hygienist can help you to evaluate the risk of heat stress in you work place, providing you with tips to reduce the risk to your employees.

heat stress

Noise

Did you know that exposure to hazardous noise at work is a major cause of hearing loss in NSW?

Employees can suffer temporary or permanent hearing loss when they're exposed to workplace noise exceeding the exposure standard of 85 decibels.

Hearing loss happens when hair cells in the inner ear are permanently damaged. Once they are destroyed, they never grow back.

Known as noise induced hearing loss (NIHL), the damage usually occurs over a number of years. Often a permanent condition, it can have a negative impact on an employee's life.

There are also cases where loud noises like explosive powered nail guns, firearms, stamping presses and forges can damage hearing instantly. This is called acoustic trauma.

Employers have a legal responsibility to ensure that their workers are not exposed to noise that exceeds the exposure standard. You can find out more about your responsibilities at SafeWork NSW.

Airsafe can help you make sure you comply with your legal obligations and keep your employees protected from excess noise.

noise

The benefits of good occupational hygiene

In the work place, good occupational hygiene benefits workers and industry alike. When occupational health and safety standards are met, it results in:

  • Improved worker health and increased life expectancy.
  • A reduction in the number of workers who have to leave employment early in life, due to injury or illness.
  • Lower social and healthcare costs.
  • The development of worker potential.
  • A more efficient working process with technological improvements and increased productivity.

The benefits of working with an Airsafe occupational hygienist

At Airsafe, our occupational hygienists specialise in controlling health risks in practical and cost-effective ways, by assessing and resolving practical problems in a wide range of settings, including factories, offices and building sites. When working with an Airsafe occupational hygienist, you are guaranteed a thorough assessment on the short and long-term effects on health arising from both acute and chronic exposure to the potential hazards in your work place, with a focus on the chemical, physical and biological hazards that may exist.

Get a comprehensive quote on your occupational hygiene needs »