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What is Occupational Hygiene?

Occupational Hygiene is the discipline of anticipating, recognising, evaluating and controlling health hazards in the working environment (BOHS)

Occupational Hygiene has been defined as:

"The discipline of anticipating, recognising, evaluating and controlling health hazards in the working environment with the objective of protecting worker health and well-being and safeguarding the community at large."


  • Identifying potential hazards in the workplace


  • Identifying the threat a potential hazard poses, e.g. chemical agent, physical agent, biological agent, ergonomic factor or psychosocial factors


  • Measuring the personal exposure of the worker to the hazard, with assessment to published occupational limits (e.g. EH40)


  • Minimising the worker's exposure, usually through preventative measures

How Important is Occupational Hygiene?

This can be illustrated by comparing statistics. In the UK,

  • Number of deaths due to work activities is about 250 per year
  • Deaths due to road traffic accidents about 2,500 per year
  • Deaths due to work related cancer and respiratory disease is estimated at 13,000 per year

Examples of airborne workplace hazard substances/processes include:

Crystalline silica

  • Quarrying, brick and tile manufacture, ceramic manufacture, sandblasting and glass manufacture

Machine-made mineral fibre

  • Thermal and acoustic insulation, asbestos

Welding fume

  • Airborne gases and fine metal particles


  • Polyurethane, foam, solvent, adhesive, varnish and paint manufacture

Wood dust

  • Machining or cutting


  • Specific hazards from potent compounds

Petroleum products

  • Lubricating oils, aromatic extracts, gas and fuel oils

Mining - mineral and metal extraction

  • Coal dust, asbestos, arsenic, silica

Metal use and refining

  • Cadmium, lead, chromium


  • Legionella, bacteria, viral, fungal spores

How can SKC help?

SKC's relationship with the science of occupational hygiene is that we supply air sampling equipment, enabling the recognition and evaluation of a potential chemical (gas/vapour/solid) or biological hazard to be measured qualitatively and quantitatively, and monitored again after control measures have been put in place to evaluate their effectiveness. Although SKC offer predominantly air sampling equipment we also have a range of complimentary products for skin/dermal and surface sampling and environmental sampling.