Industrial Hygiene (IH) is the science of chronic risk management where the health effect can only be seen or confirmed after years of exposure. Though IH is interfacing with other discipline such as Safety and Environment, the profession is almost invisible particularly in small companies. “Safety” is always the main priority in the eyes of the management, especially when it comes to reducing workplace accidents; unlike “Health”, we are struggling to have the same impact on the number of people suffering diseases such as cancer or hearing loss which have been caused by hazards in the workplace.
The Industrial hygienist plays important role to protect the health of the employee that requires control or improvement to the workplace situation. Industrial Hygienist needs to convince the management on the importance in managing health risk at work. Chronic nature of occupational illness such as hearing loss, work related-musculoskeletal disorder (WMSD) and chemical poisoning; non traditional and emerging issues such as stress and nanotechnology are among the key issues and challenges in implementing IH programs. With good IH programs that include Health Risk Assessment (HRA), we can influence the management that the above health risks can be eliminated or, at the very least, brought under control. In PETRONAS, HRA program is the starting point for Health Risk Management which able to identify hazards that are common in the workplace, putting control measures include the suitability with the process, operation and machineries, cost and time and provides a basis to conduct specific health hazard studies.
Though Industrial hygiene is not yet universally recognized as a profession, in many countries, framework legislation is emerging that will lead to its establishment. For Malaysia, Industrial Hygiene is mostly regulatory driven for hazards such as noise and chemicals where the availability & capability of IH is key in meeting the legal requirements.
The current global capability for IH is concentrated in developed countries where growth is required in developing countries. Identify capable people for managing IH is important for PETRONAS. In meeting the needs, IH capability programs established in building IH skills and capability to deliver effective IH program management across the group.
This presentation will provide the journey and challenges in managing IH program and establishing IH profession as one of the technical career ladder in PETRONAS.