Difference between Industrial Hygiene & Occupational Health

Occupational hygiene and safety

Industrial hygiene deals with Control Techniques to reduce or eliminate ill-effects of environmental hazards like chemical, physical, biological and ergonomic hazards on human health. The control techniques are mostly Engineering Control Measures which try to measure, quantify, monitor, control and eliminate.

  1. Chemical hazards like dust, gas, fumes, acids, solvents, etc. and
  2. Physical hazards like temperature, pressure, noise vibration, radiation, etc.
  3. Biological hazards like bacteria, virus, fungus, insects, moulds, parasite, algae, protodones, mematotes, mycoplasma, cells lines, and other micro-organisms or genetically engineered organisms or cells that can cause disease and aspects of drinking water, cleanliness, waste and sewage disposal, food contamination, etc., and
  4. Ergonomic hazards like pain, illness or accidents due to wrong design, awkward position, improper lifting, man-machine (or job) non-alignment, etc. Application of engineering and biomechanical principles can eliminate such hazards.

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Thus branch of industrial hygiene needs primarily an engineering and biomechanical knowledge and expertise.  Therefore, it is called “Hygiene Engineering” also.

Occupational health studies the mode, effects and consequence of environmental hazards or stress – chemical, physical, biological and ergonomic – on human health. The techniques are mostly medical and study

  1. Ill-effects or diseases on health, bodily disorder or maladjustment
  2. Medical remedies to remove occupational illness or disease and improve health
  3. Preventive measures to avoid disease and to maintain good health and
  4. Improvement of nutrition and general physical and mental health of the workers.

Industrial hygiene attempts to eliminate or minimize the exposure of environmental or work hazards on human or public health by engineering controls and good housekeeping and keeps the workplace environment clean, pollution-free and hygienic while occupational health deals with the effects of exposure that penetrates human health, give medicines to improve it and by pre-employment and periodical medical examinations, it strives to anticipate (early detection of) occupational disease and tries for continuous health care of the workers.


Occupational  Health,  also known as Occupational Medicine, aims at identifying occupational diseases in the early stage. Industrial Hygiene is aimed at identifying and rectifying causes leading to occupational diseases. By the time an occupational disease is identified, it may be too late. Therefore prevention and control of factors leading to occupational illnesses and disease is the best option. Ultimately it increases the life span.

Even if no occupational disease has occurred, the hazards at workplaces reduce the life of exposed people from a few days to a few years. Therefore industrial hygiene practice is always useful and most desired to assess and make the workplace safe and to stop decreasing the precious life span.


Distinction with public health:- Occupational health deals with man in relation to his work and working environment inside the workplace, both physically and mentally, whereas public health deals with man in relation to his environment in society, outside the workplace and where hazards such as air and water pollution, noise, nutrition, and infections may affect his health.

Work co-ordination between Industrial Hygienist, Safety Officer and Factory Medical Officer for the purpose of safety.

Occupational hygiene SAFETY OFFICER

The work of Industrial Hygienist, Safety Officer or professional and Occupational Health Specialist or Factory Medical Officer is reciprocal and useful to each other.

Industrial hygienists can measure and report the hazard level (noise in dBA, gas vapor in ppm, or percentage, light in lux, oxygen level, air velocity, heat stress, etc.). He can carry out personal monitoring and report individual exposures. He can assess the need for biological monitoring and report to the Director.

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Safety Officer can study this report and suggest appropriate engineering and other controls.

If industrial hygiene -practices are implemented first, there will be less work for the occupational health specialist or doctor and fewer ill-effects on workers, the public and the environment.

The work of industrial hygienists is useful to health physicians (doctor) in drawing some conclusion and conversely, the diagnostic doubt of the physician can be scientifically replied by the hygienist.

Health specialists or Doctors can examine the worker for the effect of exposure, can carry out biological monitoring if necessary and suggest necessary medical measures.

FAQ about Industrial Hygiene & Occupational Health

Q: What is industrial hygiene?

A: Industrial hygiene refers to the practice of identifying, assessing, and controlling environmental hazards that can negatively impact human health in the workplace. These hazards can include chemical, physical, biological, and ergonomic factors. Industrial hygiene utilizes engineering control measures to monitor, quantify, and eliminate such hazards.

Q: What types of hazards does industrial hygiene address?

A: Industrial hygiene addresses various types of hazards, including:

  1. Chemical hazards such as dust, gas, fumes, acids, solvents, etc.
  2. Physical hazards such as temperature, pressure, noise, vibration, radiation, etc.
  3. Biological hazards such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, insects, molds, and other microorganisms that can cause diseases.
  4. Ergonomic hazards such as pain, illness, or accidents caused by improper design, awkward postures, improper lifting, etc.

Q: What is the role of engineering controls in industrial hygiene?

A: Engineering controls play a crucial role in industrial hygiene. They involve the application of engineering and biomechanical principles to eliminate or minimize hazards in the workplace. By implementing engineering controls, such as modifying equipment, improving ventilation, or redesigning work processes, the risks associated with hazards can be effectively controlled or eliminated.

Q: What is occupational health?

A: Occupational health focuses on studying the effects and consequences of environmental hazards or stresses (chemical, physical, biological, and ergonomic) on human health in the workplace. It primarily employs medical techniques to understand and address the ill-effects, diseases, and maladjustments caused by occupational hazards.

Q: What are the goals of occupational health?

A: The goals of occupational health include:

  1. Studying the ill-effects or diseases on workers’ health and well-being.
  2. Providing medical remedies and treatments to remove or mitigate occupational illnesses and improve overall health.
  3. Implementing preventive measures to avoid diseases and promote good health.
  4. Enhancing workers’ nutrition, physical fitness, and mental well-being through comprehensive health care and support.

Q: What is the difference between industrial hygiene and occupational health?

A: Industrial hygiene primarily focuses on identifying, quantifying, monitoring, and eliminating hazards in the workplace through engineering control measures and good housekeeping. Its aim is to create a clean, pollution-free, and hygienic environment. On the other hand, occupational health deals with the effects of occupational hazards on human health. It aims to anticipate, detect, and provide continuous health care for occupational diseases through medical techniques and interventions.

Q: How do industrial hygiene and occupational health work together?

A: Industrial hygiene and occupational health are mutually beneficial and interconnected disciplines. Industrial hygienists assess hazard levels and report their findings, providing valuable information to safety officers and health specialists. These professionals can then suggest appropriate engineering controls and medical measures to address the identified hazards. By working together, they aim to create safer and healthier work environments for employees.

Q: What is the role of an industrial hygienist?

A: An industrial hygienist is responsible for measuring and reporting hazard levels in the workplace, conducting personal monitoring of individual exposures, and assessing the need for biological monitoring. They play a crucial role in identifying and rectifying causes that can lead to occupational diseases. Their work contributes to creating safer working conditions and minimizing the negative impact on workers, the public, and the environment.

Q: How does industrial hygiene contribute to increasing lifespan and productivity?

A: Implementing industrial hygiene practices in the workplace helps to reduce occupational diseases and their associated negative health impacts on workers. By eliminating or minimizing hazards, the lifespan of exposed individuals can be increased. Additionally, safer working environments contribute to improved productivity, as healthier and safer employees are better able to focus on their tasks and perform optimally.

Q: How is occupational health different from public health?

A: Occupational health focuses on the impact of work and the working environment on an individual’s physical and mental well-being. It addresses hazards and stresses specifically within the workplace. In contrast, public health considers the broader societal and environmental factors that can affect health outside of the workplace, such as air and water pollution, noise pollution, nutrition, and infectious diseases.

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