What is industrial hygiene?

Industrial hygiene is concerned primarily with the control of occupational health hazards that arise as a result of or during work. Industrial hygiene has been defined as that science and art devoted to the anticipation, recognition, evaluation and control of those environmental factors or stresses arising in or from the workplace, which may cause sickness, impaired health and well-being, or significant discomfort among workers or among citizens of the community.

At Fermilab, the Industrial Hygiene Group uses the process of anticipation, recognition, evaluation and control (AREC) to identify potential hazards in the workplace. The table below highlights some of the ways the AREC process is captured here at the lab.

Anticipation Recognition Evaluation Control
Job Meetings Injury/Illness Investigations Health and Safety Walkthroughs Engineering
Purchase Requisition Reviews Industrial Hygiene Assessment Database Industrial Hygiene Sampling Database Administrative
Project Reviews Job Planning & Hazard Analyses Negative Exposure Assessments Personal Protective Equipment
Hazardous Materials Management Program Product Labels and SDSs Professional Judgment Product Substitution
Education, Training & Reference Materials Written Procedures Exhaust System Survey Database Respiratory Protection Report
Industrial Hygiene WAAF Exposure Assessment Tool Medical Surveillance Environmental Potential to Emit Spreadsheet Hearing Conservation Report
Design Reviews &

Experiment Reviews

Fire Department Run Reports Laser Database
Tool Box Meetings Audiometric Database
Daily and/or Operational Meetings Employee Concerns
Chemical Hygiene Plans
Lessons Learned
Confined Space Database
Industrial Hygiene Plan Database

Industrial hygienists also use the hierarchy of controls. This is a system that is used to minimize or eliminate exposure to hazards. The main goal of an IH is to improve the process and eliminate the hazard if possible. When that is not possible, substitution is the next control. For example, can you use a nonhazardous or less hazardous material or chemical to replace the existing hazard? Next is engineering controls. Can the work be done using a chemical hood while using a chemical, or can a welding duct exhaust be used during welding or brazing activities?  Administrative controls are changing the way the work is done. They can include procedures, training and warning signage. When no other controls are feasible, the use of personal protective equipment is used for hazards. This can be respirators, gloves, lab coats or other equipment.


To learn more about IH, please visit the Fermilab IH webpage.

For questions or concerns about a new process or activity, please contact a member of the IH Group for an assessment: Rob Bushek, Amy Pavnica (ergonomics), Richard Rebstock, Johnny Staffa or Daniel Villarreal.