Occupational hygienists are responsible for the health and well-being of workforces throughout all industrial manufacturing industries, such as mining, pharmaceuticals, airlines, chemicals etc. Occupational hygienists are responsible for looking after the health and safety of workers in the workplace. There are two acts of Parliament that assist to govern the work of Occupational Hygienists namely the Occupational Health and Safety Act (Act 85 of 1993) and the Mine Health and Safety Act (Act 29 of 1996). Occupational Hygienists are responsible for ensuring that employers carry out their business in line with the stipulations of these acts.
They are trained to recognise health hazards and how to evaluate the extent of these hazards. They identify the risks involved and implement procedures for controlling them. These procedures assist management in coping with any risks to their workforce and prepare them for potential liabilities that might arise.
The typical duties of occupational hygienists are to carry out surveys on working conditions in the workplace, assess risks (such as chemical exposure, noise levels, poor lighting, ventilation etc, to document details of risk factors accurately, to give consideration to and recommend appropriate control methods, as well as to communicate effectively with the workforce and liaise with outside companies which specialise in health and safety services.
They work closely with the workforce, providing them with clear and accurate information regarding risk or health hazards. In order to do their work effectively, occupational hygienists need to stay well-informed on scientific and legal developments in the industrial manufacturing industry. Once they have gained the relevant experience, they may decide to become self-employed and work on a contractual or part-time basis.