Let's Talk About Industrial Hygiene

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Accepting the modern definition of the term "Health", which contemplates not only the absence of organic disease (poor functioning of the set of cells, tissues, organs and systems of the human body), but also the physical, mental and social balance We can accept that the control of "Occupational Health" is something broader than just avoiding the appearance of occupational disease.

"Occupational disease is understood as the one contracted as a consequence of working for others in the activities specified in the table approved by the provisions of application and development of that law, and that is caused by the action of elements or substances that in said table they are indicated for each occupational disease "

In this sense we can indicate that since Occupational Health consists of the physical, mental and social balance of an individual in the work environment, the maintenance of said balance should be controlled, using the most appropriate techniques in each case:


Non-medical technique for the prevention of occupational diseases, by controlling the pollutants that produce them in the work environment. Industrial hygiene deals with the relationships and effects that the pollutant in the workplace produces on the worker.

We mention here to distinguish them that ERGONOMICS is the technique of study and mutual adaptation between man and his job, while WORKMEN is the part of medical science dedicated to the monitoring and prevention of the effects of different pollutants and physical agents on man.

Given that the fundamental objective of Industrial Hygiene is to Prevent Occupational Diseases, in order to achieve this objective it bases its action on the functions of recognition, evaluation and control of environmental factors at work.


From the technical point of view, occupational disease is defined as a slow and gradual deterioration of the worker's health produced by continuous exposure to adverse situations, while an occupational accident is defined as a normal event that, presenting itself unexpectedly , interrupts the continuity of work and causes harm to the worker.

The similarity between the two lies in the final consequence: damage to the worker's health. The difference, in the time during which the action that ends up causing the damage takes place. In illness, time is important, since the concentration, quantity or energy of the pollutant configures the dose and the effect it produces on the exposed person. On the other hand, in the case of an accident at work, time is irrelevant, since it does not influence the effect caused; it appears instantly at the time of the accident.


The development of any work activity causes modifications in the work environment that originate aggressive stimuli for the health of the people involved. These stimuli, which are called pollutants, can appear as portions of matter (inert or living), as well as energetic manifestations of a diverse nature and their presence in the work environment gives rise to what is known as HYGIENIC RISK. This concept can be defined as “the probability of suffering health alterations due to the action of pollutants, also called RISK FACTORS, during the performance of work

Chemical pollutant is any substance that during handling can enter the environment and enter the human body with harmful effects and the ability to harm the health of people who come into contact with it. We can classify them according to their nature, risk factors or contaminants in:

Chemical pollutants: It is understood by such, any portion of inert matter, that is, not living, in any of its states of aggregation (solid, liquid or gas), whose presence in the work atmosphere can cause alterations in the health of people exposed. As it is inert matter, its absorption by the body does not cause an increase in the portion absorbed. Within this group we can mention, by way of example, fine powders, fibers, fumes, mists, gases, vapors, etc.

Harmful physical agents: They are energetic manifestations, the presence of which in the work environment can create a hygienic risk. Some examples of forms of energy capable of acting as risk factors are: noise, vibrations, pressure variations, radiation (ionizing and non-ionizing), etc.

Biological pollutants: It is considered as such, the entire portion of living matter (viruses, bacteria, fungi ...), whose presence in the workplace can cause adverse effects on the health of the people with whom they come into contact. Unlike what happens with chemical pollutants, the absorption of a biological pollutant causes an increase in the absorbed portion in the body.


The concentration of the pollutant in the work environment: There are maximum tolerated values, established for many of the physical and chemical risks that are usually present in the work environment, below which it is foreseeable that under normal conditions they will not produce damage. the exposed worker.

Exposure time: The commented limits usually refer to specific exposure times, related to a normal 8-hour working day and an average period of active working life.

The individual characteristics of each individual: The concentration and time of exposure are established for a normal population, so it will be necessary to consider in each case the living conditions and personal constants of each individual.

The relativity of health: The legal definition of health does not coincide with the technical definition: Work is a constantly evolving phenomenon, the working methods and products used are increasingly diverse and changing, and so are the concepts that health and disease are in force in a society, so limiting oneself to what is officially established, although this is very recent, is not a guarantee of approaching the problem of occupational diseases in its real dimension.

The presence of several pollutants at the same time: It is not difficult to suppose that the aggressions caused by an adverse element diminish the defense capacity of an individual, for which the acceptable limit values have to be questioned when there are several aggressive conditions in A job.

In these lines I was talking a little about what Industrial Hygiene is, the risk factors and contaminants, this is so that you have an idea what Industrial Hygiene is for, it influences to take precautions in the health of workers, it is now It is known more as Occupational Health and Safety. Then I will make other publications touching a little more of this and other topics in common. thanks

Safety Health and Well-being


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