A degree in a science or technology-based subject, or equivalent, is desirable. From there you should start to build on your experience and training in occupational hygiene.
A trainee level position at an occupational hygiene services company will be able to offer on-the-job training as well as put you through the W500 modules. Over these years you should build up your on-site experience (keeping your Personal Learning Portfolio up to date with your experience and additional learning achievements) and apply your W500 learning as you go along.
BOHS offers regional meetings to aid in your professional development and field understanding. You may also benefit from connecting to other occupational hygienists at a higher level of expertise (see BOHS mentoring scheme).
Occupational hygiene jobs typically involve working within the HS&E team in a company or for an occupational hygiene consultancy. You would need to visit other company sites if working in-house or a wide range of sites if at a consultancy.
Occupational hygienists may work throughout general industry by visiting a variety of sites e.g. foundries, bakeries, quarries, electronics, etc. Or, the role may be sector specific e.g. if based within a single pharmaceutical, construction or manufacturing site/company.
This is a difficult question to answer as not all occupational hygiene focused roles deal with the same level of responsibilities or technical application.
However, a trainee level occupational hygiene position with a scientific background may expect a starting salary between £22k - £28k per year full-time. While the average yearly salary of a chartered level occupational hygiene position with a high level of responsibility and expertise currently sits at £50k.
These are ball park figures and depend highly on the specifics of the job and the person’s current level of experience, knowledge and training.
Occupational hygienists have the responsibility to protect workers' health, first and foremost. The goal of occupational hygiene is to conduct an investigation into the workplace to assess the likelihood of exposure and advise on prevention or control measures as appropriate.
But speaking in terms of day-to-day responsibilities, the occupational hygienist would assess the level of hazardous substances exposure in the workplace often by qualitative methods such as a dust lamp, quantitative methods such as personal exposure sampling, or a combination of both. The process flows by first anticipating and recognising the hazards, then evaluating exposures, and subsequently controlling the risks by following the hierarchy of control.
An occupational hygienist goes where the hazards are. In all workplaces, in all sectors, workplace hazards exist. So the job can take you anywhere really, covering a wide range of hazard recognitions and risk evaluations.
Sometimes a sector or business will be focused on a particular hazard because there is a concern, or the occupational exposure limits are changing, or because regulators are pushing businesses to improve, or any number of other reasons. In these situations, you may find yourself leading a project across a business, or many clients at a consultancy. An example would be changes to the designation of welding fume, causing many businesses to focus on this all at once.
In terms of employment, this depends on what the interest of the budding occupational hygienist is. They may wish to apply to a specific company that employs an in-house team of occupational health/hygiene focused staff. Or apply to a consultancy-based company which covers all areas of industry.
Companies can advertise job vacancies to our members. We send out details to our members in our monthly ebulletins and details can be found on the member vacancy page once you log into your membership account.
You may search for the term "occupational hygiene" or an individual hygiene topic on other jobs boards which may be available to the public.
Occupational health is closely related to occupational hygiene in that both roles are focused on worker health protection. However, an occupational hygienist’s aim is to prevent or control exposure before ill-health occurs. Whereas an occupational physician focuses on evaluating the extent of ill-health effects.
A routine health surveillance programme is an invaluable service in that early detection of ill-health effects will set in motion the actions required to prevent the effects from progressing into a more serious and potentially irreversible condition.