Industrial hygiene is "the 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." The goal of industrial hygiene is to prevent occupational disease, illness, and injury.
Technical expertise and competency are the cornerstone of good industrial hygiene exposure assessment and control programs. Assessment work can be part of a planned compliance or baseline measurement program or a response to a sudden crisis or complaint. Industrial hygiene services are highly sought after, with appreciable resource, time and expense, requirements. Current corporate "belt tightening" during difficult and competitive economic conditions is resulting in close scrutiny of safety and industrial hygiene services as part of resource prioritization efforts. Challenges arise to the position that all assessment concerns have to be answered by exposure measurement numbers. Debates result about the level of expertise required and whether work can be completed "in house" or necessitates third party contractors who market greater expertise. Industrial hygiene assessments are only as good as the expertise and "best practice" adherence that go into them. The conduction of this work entails more than the competent handling of equipment or completion of a menu list, which can, on occasion, appear deceptively simple. Industrial hygiene work is time intensive, as it involves true consultation on assessment needs, survey and research on materials and tasks producing exposures, monitoring and equipment knowledge, representative exposure measurement, results comparison to health protective standards, control evaluation and improvement recommendations, and training and communication. All of that being said, there is a wide range of industrial hygiene consultation tasks that involve different levels of complexity and skill sets. Managing expenses appropriately translates into actions to allocate industrial hygiene resources wisely.