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Occupational Hygienists

THE SCIENTISTS BEHIND HEALTH AND SAFETY

The Australian Institute of Occupational Hygienists Inc

technical knowledge. An occupational hygienist must have both these attributes to attain full membership of the AIOH. Consultant occupational hygienists are controlled by peer review and the AIOH code of conduct that commits members to professional standards of practice in protecting workers' health and includes requirements that protect employers from over servicing and noncompetitive arrangements. The AIOH publishes a list of members offering consulting services. In addition the AIOH has a professional certification scheme whereby hygienists must show evidence that they have maintained their professional competence. RISK MANAGEMENT An essential first step in risk management is to know the significance of the risks you face. Cost effective use of resources requires the scientific assessment of risks. Occupational Hygienists are tertiary trained in objective risk assessment and control. Risk management has been practiced and refined by occupational hygienists since the late 1800s. Effective risk management requires the assessment and control of risks in accordance with scientifically tested principles and techniques. This is the cornerstone of the hygienist's training. Occupational hygienists are responsible for the development of the standards used for the assessment of workplace hazards such as noise, chemicals and radiation. Governments throughout the world have adopted these standards. Occupational hygienists are trained in the interpretation and application of OHS standards. Many standards come with the proviso that they should be interpreted by an occupational hygienist. Occupational Hygienists have the technical training to enable them to assess the costs and benefits of risk control measures. Through the AIOH Occupational Hygienists have a broad and diverse international network of colleagues that they can access for the latest in solutions and professional practice. The annual AIOH conference showcases the latest technology and enables members to keep in touch with the work of their colleagues locally and internationally. All these factors contribute to the efficiency, effectiveness and professionalism of the service provided by Occupational Hygienists to the community. COMPLIANCE OHS Acts and regulations throughout Australia require employers to have competent people to advise them on OHS issues. Occupational Hygienists are recognised as competent professionals in noise, asbestos, confined spaces and hazardous substance issues. Occupational health and safety legislation has moved away from prescriptive style legislation towards "performance standard" regulation. Performance standards allow employers greater flexibility and the opportunity for efficiencies - an example would be choosing your mode of travel to a particular destination. Performance standards also bring greater responsibility ­ you must assess the risks and ensure that the mode of travel is safe. Competent advice is an essential component of setting the right OHS standards. Setting them too low can risk workers' health and result in employers' prosecutions. Setting standards unnecessarily high can impose significant additional costs and overburden employees with redundant procedures and unwieldy safety systems. With steadily increasing penalties for corporations and individuals professional advice is essential for employers looking towards compliance. Occupational Hygienists are recognised as competent to assess employers' requirements in the following legislationlegislative areas: Asbestos, Lead, Confined Spaces, Manual Handling, Hazardous Substances, and Noise.

The Australian Institute of Occupational Hygienists are part of an extensive international network that assists Australian Occupational Hygienists to keep up to date with the best practices and emerging issues for Australian employers.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT OCCUPATIONAL HYGIENISTS Occupational hygienists should be considered for jobs that include technical OHS issues including noise, heat stress, indoor air quality, hazardous substances and radiation. A qualified occupational hygienist is able to identify and advise on the control of hazards in the workplace. More importantly, as the scientists specialising in the measurement of workplace hazards we are also able to carry out quantitative risk assessments. What does this mean? It means that we can help decide when to act and when it is not necessary to take action. The intelligent management of resources demands more than to simply point

to lists of OHS hazards. Employers need to know where to direct resources to get the greatest benefit. By measuring chemical and physical agents and assessing them against standards we are able to determine where risks must be controlled and where they are acceptable. Often an experienced hygienist is able to assess a situation without measurements, enabling the resources that would otherwise be consumed in the assessment to be directed towards practical control solutions. CONSULTING SERVICES When employers want to know whether or not they need to take action on OHS issues they need a professional risk assessment. Occupational hygienists are qualified/able to do the job. Where OHS issues are concerned, it is important that people giving advice are competent with a good knowledge of technical theory and the skills to apply that knowledge in the field. A professional occupational hygienist is able to give practical advice that employers can action. Full membership of the AIOH can only be obtained after 5 years of professional practice and adequate education. This ensures that occupational hygienists understand and have experienced the practicalities of the workplace. Decisions made simply because hazards exist waste resources. Business people can become frustrated with over cautious consultants, offering little in the way of practical advice because they lack the skills to assess risks properly. Clear advice on where to act requires a combination of experience and

COMPETENCE Membership of the AIOH requires tertiary qualifications and experience. Applications are peer reviewed by active professionals. Full and Fellow members use the letters MAIOH and FAIOH respectively after their names. The AIOH runs a professional certification scheme whereby a Certified Occupational Hygienists (COH) must pass a rigorous examination and maintain their skills and knowledge through continued professional work and through education. In order for an occupational hygienist to achieve Provisional membership they must hold an approved tertiary qualification in a quantitative discipline such as engineering or science and have one year of professional experience. Full membership of the AIOH requires an additional 4 years professional experience. A board of experienced hygienists reviews all applications. The board reviews educational qualifications and examples of reports to ensure that the applicants have the necessary skills and knowledge. The applicant is then normally interviewed by 2 Full members to further assess their competence. To be certified a hygienist must have the professional experience of a Full member but must also have passed an accredited course of study or sat an approved examination and then they must pass an oral exam. The AIOH also accepts student members and Associate members for those who do not yet have the required qualifications or who are working peripherally in occupational hygiene. It has a mentoring scheme whereby inexperienced hygienists can be teamed up with an experienced hygienist to assist their professional development. ETHICS The AIOH has a published code of ethics committing Members to professional standards of practice in protecting workers' health and including requirements that protect employers from over servicing and non-competitive arrangements. Members of the AIOH are subject to a code of ethics that gives paramount importance to the protection of workers' health. This is the principle driving purpose of the Occupational Hygienist and establishes our credibility as the professional best placed to assess workplace health risks. The code of ethics also includes responsibilities to assess risks objectively, provide competent advice, confidentiality, and information on legal compliance and clear factual reports. Consultants have additional responsibilities to ensure subcontractor's competence, disclose potential conflicts of interest and provide confidentiality.

INTERNATIONAL AFFILIATIONS The Australian Institute of Occupational Hygienists are part of an extensive international network that assists Australian Occupational Hygienists keep up to date with the best practices and emerging issues for Australian employers. The Australian Institute of Occupational Hygienists is a founding member of the International Occupational Hygiene Association (IOHA) and has close affiliations with the American Industrial Hygiene Association, the British Occupational Hygiene Society, the American Board of Industrial Hygiene and various European bodies. Our members are closely involved in setting international standards for control of health hazards and are constantly in touch with our international colleagues. With the aid of our major sponsors, the AIOH sends members overseas each year to the US, Britain and Europe. The AIOH President regularly attends international conferences and the Presidents of our affiliates are usually present at the Australian Conference. Through this healthy international network Occupational Hygienists are kept up to date with emerging issues and are better able to identify and prevent problems occurring or control them before they get out of hand. Practices are constantly reviewed against the best world benchmarks and we are updated with the latest in technology and practical solutions.

The Australian Institute Of Occupational Hygienists Inc Level 1/49 Keilor Park Drive, Keilor Park 3042 PO Box 1205 Tullamarine Victoria 3043 Ph: 03 9336 2290 Fax: 03 9336 2242 E-Mail: [email protected] www.aioh.org.au

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