|Year : 2015 | Volume
| Issue : 2 | Page : 90-94
Situational analysis of industrial hygienists in India
Rajnarayan R Tiwari1, Anjali Sharma2, Sanjay P Zodpey3, Shruti Patel1
1 Division of Occupational Medicine, National Institute of Occupational Health, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India
2 Academic Programs, Public Health Foundation of , New Delhi, India
3 Public Health Education, National Institute of Occupational Health, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India
|Date of Web Publication||14-Sep-2015|
Rajnarayan R Tiwari
Division of Occupational Medicine, National Institute of Occupational Health, Meghani Nagar, Ahmedabad - 380 016, Gujarat
Source of Support: Nil, Conflict of Interest: None declared.
Background: Industrial growth in India has resulted in increased employment opportunities thereby inflating the size of the workforce engaged in both organized and unorganized sectors. This workforce is exposed to various occupational factors at workplace and hence is susceptible to occupational diseases, the control of which requires trained occupational health manpower. Methods: The present study was undertaken to map the institutions offering courses to develop industrial hygienist in India, estimate the requirement of such occupational health manpower and to design competencies and curriculum for such a course. Results: Though there are no norms for the industrial hygienist in the Indian Factories Act, on assumption on the basis of norms provided for Safety Officer, it is estimated that for 26.92 million workforce engaged in organized sector, a total of 5407 Industrial hygienists will be required. Thus there is an estimated deficit of 51% for Industrial hygienist based on current ratio of employment. However on supply side there are only three institutes offering specialized courses on industrial hygiene out of which only one is full time residential course while rest two are offered through distance learning mode. Conclusions: Therefore, there is a vital need for the development of industrial hygienist not only in quantity but also in quality so that the workers in industries and communities lead socially and environmentally productive lives.
Keywords: India, Indian factories act, industrial hygienist, occupational health workforce
|How to cite this article:|
Tiwari RR, Sharma A, Zodpey SP, Patel S. Situational analysis of industrial hygienists in India. Indian J Occup Environ Med 2015;19:90-4
|How to cite this URL:|
Tiwari RR, Sharma A, Zodpey SP, Patel S. Situational analysis of industrial hygienists in India. Indian J Occup Environ Med [serial online] 2015 [cited 2020 Nov 24];19:90-4. Available from: https://www.ijoem.com/text.asp?2015/19/2/90/165333
| Introduction|| |
With the transition in the landscape of growing markets and policies, economies around the globe are currently challenging every employer. During the next few years, companies will have to develop healthy, productive workforce engaged in every aspect of their business to vanquish and prosper in an increasingly global and competitive business environment. As the work environment constitutes over a third of the time spent in their lives by the working adults during their lifespan and significantly contributes to their overall individual health, it is immensely important to ensure a healthy working environment. Health and safety at work, the socioeconomic status of a country and the quality of life and general well-being of working people are closely linked. Maintenance and promotion of healthy work environment will prove to be hugely beneficial in the long run for the overall well-being of the workers which will enhance their productivity and make a significant contribution to an enterprise and development of the nation.
Indian economy being one of the fastest growing economies only next to China provides an opportunity for wide-scale infrastructure development for industrialization and urbanization. This has resulted in increased employment in the newer sectors though the traditional occupations like agriculture and mining still continue to employ a significant proportion of working population. It is widely acknowledged that the workplace has a strong bearing on the health because of the multitude of hazards which exist in the working space. The enormous size of workforce especially the younger population, females, and individuals employed in newer occupations and those engaged in informal sector are predominantly exposed to various occupational factors affecting health and safety at workplace and hence are more susceptible to occupational diseases. These occupational factors may vary from dust, gas and fumes, chemical exposure, extreme climatic conditions, heavy lifting, noise of high amplitude, unguarded and unsafe moving locomotives and other machinery, etc.
Many of the occupational diseases can be prevented if the exposure to the harmful factors at work environment is curtailed. This can be ensured through regular monitoring of the environmental factors so as to keep it within the permissible levels and keeping the occupational risks and infections at bay by limiting their exposure. One of the effective ways in delivering such quality services is the development of a multi-professional occupational health team of which industrial hygienist is an important member. Industrial Hygienists are the professionals who are committed to protect the health and safety of the people in the workplace and communities. They investigate and examine the workplace for hazards and potential dangers and recommend appropriate methods to avoid the hazards by analyzing the nature of the job.
At present in India, no statistics is available on the demand and supply dynamics and existing and required industrial hygienists to address the challenges of anticipation, prevention, recognition, monitoring, evaluation and control of workplace contaminants and risks that may cause sickness, injury, impaired health or well-being among workers. Against this background, the current study, first of its kind, was undertaken to map the institutions offering courses to develop industrial hygienists, estimating the requirement of such integral occupational health manpower and to design competencies and curriculum for such a course.
| Materials and Methods|| |
The search strategy was a three-pronged approach which included searching the information through internet, printed journals and getting insights through focused communication with experts in the field.
The internet search was conducted using the Google and PubMed search engines with the aim to map the courses being offered in industrial hygiene (IH). A set of key words encompassing various domains related to occupational health manpower in India was identified. The key words included "industrial hygienists, occupational health manpower, occupational health workforce and human resources in occupational health." The search was limited to courses offered in India and to collaborations between Indian and foreign institutes if any. The websites of the Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Labor were searched using the key words of the identified subjects and training programs. A similar search was conducted through the websites of the International Labor Organization, World Health Organization, International Commission on Occupational Health, and the Indian Association of Occupational Health. The website of the Directorate General, Factory Advice, and Labor Institutes, India  was also accessed for information on training programs. The search was not restricted by course duration or the type of degree/certification awarded on successful completion. Detailed information about the courses was collected from the respective institutions or from the designated websites of these institutions. Short-term courses offered by various institutions, lasting from a few days to a few weeks were disregarded and not included in the matrix.
To develop the competencies and curriculum for the IH course, an in-depth and detailed literature review of the existing industrial hygienist courses was undertaken. Indexed and nonindexed journals in the field were identified and searched for notifications and invitation of nominations for educational courses. Key institutes involved in research in occupational health were identified from the author affiliations. Key cross-references were also identified from the articles and referred for relevant information.
To calculate the number of industrial hygienist required the information on the number of registered factories, working/operational factories and the workforce therein, was obtained from the official website of Directorate General Factory Advice Services and Labor Institutes (DGFASLI), Government of India. Though there are no norms for the industrial hygienist in the Indian factories act, the act mentions that there should be regular monitoring of the environmental parameters in hazardous industries. As the issue is concerned with the safety of the workers and in Indian scenario in many places the role of industrial hygienist is fulfilled by safety officers, the norms for safety officers mentioned in the act were considered for estimating the need of industrial hygienists in the country. Thus, the required number of Industrial Hygienist was estimated assuming that the factories which employ more than 1000 workers would require one Industrial Hygienist as per the norm for safety officers mentioned in the Indian factories act.
| Results|| |
The search strategy revealed that there are three institutes offering courses on IH out of which only one offers it as a full-time residential course while the remaining two are offer it through distance learning mode. The courses on the IH being offered in India are shown in [Table 1].
A masters course offered by Institute of science, training and advanced research, Sardar Patel University, Vallabh Vidhyanagar in collaboration with the University of Cincinnati is the only full-time course. This course offers the Master of Industrial Hygiene and Safety degree. This is a 2 years duration full-time course which covers following topics semester wise:
- Semester 1: Introduction to IH, occupational health and environmental toxicology, human physiology, biostatistics and epidemiology, safety management and air sampling analysis
- Semester 2: Industrial ventilation, hazard identification, assessment and control techniques, physical aspects of the environment, safety engineering, safety in the chemical industry
- Semester 3: Medical surveillance and biological monitoring, hazardous waste management, principles of ergonomics, safety engineering, legislation on safety and health
- Semester 4: (Two courses with dissertation based on industrial training) advanced safety management and engineering techniques, industrial visits and seminars, dissertation/project work.
The distance learning Diploma in IH offered by Annamalai University  includes hazards in work places; health at work and risk analysis; industry, individual and society and management of occupational hygiene, health and safety as part of their curriculum.
The total workforce in the organized sector in India is 26.92 million (26,928,000). As per DGFASLI estimates of 2009, there are 270,294 working registered industrial factories in India with about 13.1 million (13,100,129) workers. There are 1920 major hazardous factories. Sadly, there is no statistics available for these industrial hygienists employed in the factories. Although there are no norms for the industrial hygienist, the norms for safety officers mentioned in the Indian factories act were considered for estimating the need of industrial hygienists in the country  as the issue is concerned with the safety of the workers and in Indian scenario in many places the role of industrial hygienist is fulfilled by safety officers. These factories have employed 2642 safety officers  who might be doing the additional job of IH in respective factories. Thus it is estimated that for 26.92 million workforces engaged in organized sector, we would require a total of 5407 industrial hygienist, thereby estimating the deficit of 51% for industrial hygienist based on current ratio of employment.
Furthermore, there is little quantitative data available regarding the extent of supply of industrial hygienists available in the country. However on the basis of number of students admitted for each course, duration since the course is running and the number of organizations offering full-time courses, it is estimated that there are about 200–250 qualified industrial hygienists.
The detailed literature review revealed that the courses offered are grossly insufficient to fulfill the need of industrial hygienists in the country, and more such courses are needed. Together with the imperative to ensure the health, safety, optimum working capacity and the well-being of the working population, these imbalances create an urgent need to scale up the number and quality of industrial hygienists. The trained industrial hygienists should have competencies such as determining appropriate sampling strategy for air sampling and instrumental analysis; knowledge and application of scientific concepts from basic sciences; identification, evaluation and recommendation of appropriate control for biohazards, radiation hazards and heat stress; knowledge of principles and techniques of epidemiology and biostatistics; understanding of toxic characteristics of hazardous materials and wastes and the concepts of dose-response relationship; recommendation and application of engineering control and ventilation; identification, evaluation and recommendation for control technology to mitigate ergonomically related hazards; conducting health risk analysis and health communication; and management of industrial hazards.
| Discussion|| |
The major occupational diseases in India are silicosis, musculoskeletal injuries, coal workers' pneumoconiosis, chronic obstructive lung diseases, asbestosis, byssinosis, pesticide poisoning, and noise-induced hearing loss. Further, the emergence of newer occupations with a sedentary nature of work has changed the spectrum of occupational diseases. The employees engaged in these occupations are at risk of developing debilitating and disabling musculoskeletal disorders and chronic lifestyle diseases due to more sedentary nature of work. Many occupational diseases can be prevented by regular monitoring of environmental factors causing them and acting to keep these factors within permissible levels.
Industrial hygiene (also referred to as occupational hygiene) has been defined as the science of protecting and enhancing the health and safety of people at work and in their communities. The practice of IH is commonly described as the science and art devoted to the anticipation, recognition, evaluation, prevention, and control of those environmental factors or stresses, arising in or from the workplace, which may cause sickness, impaired health and well-being, or significant discomfort among workers or the citizens of the community. Industrial hygiene has been a recognized profession since the 1940s, allowing for the growth of best practices in the profession as the science has developed. The first academic program in "IH" in the US was created in 1918 at Harvard University and provided training to industrial physicians.
Following liberalization and globalization, large-scale growth of industries usually lead to environmental challenges. Some of the chemicals used are potentially carcinogenic. Moreover, poor control technology has also aggravated the problems of pollution within and outside the work places. To deal with such problems and to find out the appropriate, feasible and cost effective solution, there is a vital need of the services of the industrial hygienist in the country. Such academically qualified professionals are scarcely available in India at present.
Further the Indian factories act also mentions that the maximum permissible threshold limits of exposure of chemical and toxic substances in manufacturing processes (whether hazardous or otherwise) in any factory shall be of the value indicated in the second schedule. However, most of the permissible levels mentioned in the second schedule are on the basis of research carried out in developed nations. One important reason for that can most likely be the scarcity of the industrial hygienist to carry out regular environmental monitoring.
Though short orientation and specialized training courses, symposia, seminars, conferences and educational campaigns are conducted regularly in IH in India by the institutes such as National Institute of Occupational Health, Ahmedabad; Central Labor Institute, Mumbai; All India Institute of Hygiene and Public Health (AIIH and PH), Kolkata; and Indian Institute of Toxicological Research, Lucknow, there are only few institutes offering full-time courses on IH. Furthermore, the courses on occupational health although include some modules on IH, it is only meant for sensitization of the students rather than to develop expertise in IH.
In India, in most of the industries, this role is performed by professionals graduated in environmental sciences, physicians, chemists, physicists and safety officers. After getting practical experience in this field and basic training or orientation in IH, they perform the duties of industrial hygienists in the country. More often, they are scientists or engineers drawn from different disciplines with on-job training in the field.
Looking into the scarce number of institutes offering courses on IH and provisions of monitoring the environmental factors regularly as per the Indian Factories Act, there is an urgent need to start more such courses. To begin with as the 3 months, Associate Fellow in Industrial Health is conducted for doctors to train them as occupational health physicians a similar course for IH can be initiated. Simultaneously, full-time Masters course on the lines of one that is conducted by ISTAR Anand, Gujarat can be designed. Moreover, development of distance learning courses would also be useful particularly for building the capacity of in service professionals.
After the successful completion of these courses the competencies of industrial hygienist should be used in recognition and evaluation of work environment, interpretation of the results of examination of the work environment in terms of nature of health impairment, work efficiency and community nuisance and/or damage. It will also be useful in presenting specific conclusions to authorities/parties such as health officials and management, determine the need for control measures, recommending suitable and effective procedures for the environment. A competent industrial hygienist can also present expert testimony before the court of law, hearing boards, and engage with workman's compensation commissions, regulatory agencies and legally appointed investigative bodies covering all matters pertaining to occupational hygiene. He/she can also be engaged in conducting programs for education of workers and the public in general for prevention of occupational diseases and community nuisance, establish or improve threshold limit values or standards as guidelines for maintenance of health and efficiency and conduct research to advance knowledge on the effects of occupation on health and means for the prevention of occupational health hazards.
| Conclusion|| |
There is an evident wide gap between the demand and supply for the industrial hygienists in India. This can be addressed by initiating new programs related to IH. Concerted efforts should also be made to implement occupational health services through public health system, which is accessible to a greater segment of the workforce especially those engaged in the unorganized sectors. In the light of the debate on basic occupational health services to be implemented through primary health care, a larger need is expected which will help in bridging the demand supply gap. Further, this need and supply gap can be narrowed qualitatively through courses offered in collaboration with international agencies.
| References|| |
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