Glossary

American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) – An organization of industrial hygiene professionals that develops occupational health and safety programs. ACGIH develops and publishes recommended occupational exposure limits for hundreds of chemical substances and physical agents.

Area Sampling – Collection and analysis of representative samples of air in common work areas to find out the concentrations of any contaminants that are present.

Asbestos – A naturally occurring, fibrous material, asbestos has been used in many industries for years. However, it also has become linked to health issues, and through the years, thousands of workers have developed mesothelioma, a deadly asbestos-related disease.

Asphyxiant – A vapor or gas that can either reduce the oxygen content in the air or interfere with the body’s ability to use oxygen. Exposure to an asphyxiant can result in unconsciousness or death due to the inability to breathe.

Audiometric Testing – Tests conducted to identify a person’s ability to hear. These tests may be used to establish an employee’s baseline hearing, to identify any subsequent hearing loss, and to monitor the efficiency of noise control measures.

Biological agent – Viruses, bacteria, fungi, or other microorganisms and their associated toxins. These organisms have the ability to negatively affect human health in a variety of ways, ranging from relatively mild, allergic reactions to serious medical complications or death. These organisms are widespread in the natural environment and are found in water, soil, plants, and animals. They can reproduce rapidly and can be a possible danger in a wide range of occupational settings.

Confined Space – A space in which a hazardous gas, vapor, dust or fume may collect or in which oxygen may be used up because of the construction of the space, its location, contents, or the work activity carried out in it. It is an area which is not designed for continuous human occupancy and has limited opening for entry, exits or ventilation.

Contaminant – An unwanted substance (for example, radioactive, biological or chemical) that is likely to hurt the quality of the work environment. Chemicals that may be present in the form of dusts, fumes, gases or vapors are the most common workplace contaminants.

Control Banding - A qualitative or semi-quantitative risk assessment and management approach to promoting occupational health and safety. It is intended to minimize worker exposures to hazardous chemicals and other risk factors in the workplace and to help small businesses by providing an easy-to-understand, practical approach to controlling hazardous exposures at work.

Corrosive – A substance that will burn the eyes or skin on contact.

Disabling Injury – An injury that hinders an employee from coming to work or doing his or her customary job duties.

Dosimeter – A device that measures cumulative exposure to radiation or other harmful agents. A noise dosimeter is a specialized sound level meter intended specifically to measure the noise exposure of a person integrated over a period of time, usually to comply with Health and Safety regulations such as the OSHA standards.

Dust – Fine particles of a solid that can remain suspended in air. The particle size of a dust is larger than that of a fume. Dusts are produced by mechanical action, such as grinding. Some dusts may be harmful to an employee’s health.

Emergency Plan – Detailed procedures for responding to an emergency, such as a fire or explosion, a chemical spill, or an uncontrolled release of energy. An emergency plan is necessary to keep order and minimize the effects of the disaster.

Environment – The surrounding conditions, influences, and forces to which an employee is exposed in the workplace.

Environmental Noise Studies – Actual or potential community noise levels are evaluated utilizing 24-hour studies of day/night noise levels (LDN) and dBA sound field readings. Studies include a written report and may include legal testimony.

Ergonomics – An applied science that studies the interaction between people and the work environment.

Excursion Limit - The maximum exposure that an individual may have to a particular chemical over a short period of time (usually 30 minutes).

Exposure Records – Records kept by an employer or company doctor or nurse of an employee’s exposure to a hazardous material or physical agent in the workplace. These records show the time, level and length of exposure for each substance or agent involved.

Filter Cassette – A sampling device clipped to an employee's collar in the breathing zone that collects air samples that are then sent to a laboratory for analysis.

Flammable – Capable of easily catching fire and of burning, usually a substance that has a flash point below 37.8°C.

Flash Point – The lowest temperature at which a liquid will give off enough vapors to form a mixture that will burn if ignited. The lower the flash point, the higher the danger of fire.

Hazard – The potential of any machine, equipment, process, material (including biological and chemical) or physical factor that may cause harm to people, or damage to property or the environment.

Hazard Analysis – Hazard analyses are conducted by certified safety professionals to assist clients in determining the basic hazards in their place of work and to suggest effective control measures.

Hazardous Material – Any substance that may produce adverse health and/or safety effects to people or the environment.

Hygiene Practices – A broad term for personal health practices that may reduce or prevent the exposure of a worker to chemical or biological substances. Hygiene practices include: not smoking, eating or drinking in the work area washing up before breaks and meals, removing contaminated clothing before leaving work, and keeping street clothes separate from contaminated work clothing.

Hypothermia – A condition in which body temperature drops below normal (36°C or 96.8°F). It most frequently develops from being exposed to very low temperatures.

Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health (IDLH) - An atmosphere that poses an immediate threat to life, would cause irreversible adverse health effects, or would impair an individual's ability to escape from a dangerous atmosphere.

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) - Refers to the air quality within and around buildings and structures, especially as it relates to the health and comfort of building occupants. IAQ can be affected by gases (including carbon monoxide, radon, volatile organic compounds), particulates, microbial contaminants (mold, bacteria), or any mass or energy stressor that can induce adverse health conditions.

Industrial Hygiene - A science dedicated to predicting, identifying, evaluating, and controlling environmental factors or hazards that arise in or from the workplace. These hazards, which may cause illness, discomfort, weakened health, or significant distress, may result in unproductive employee job performance.

Industrial Hygienists - Scientists and engineers committed to protecting the health and safety of people in the workplace and society at large. They assist companies in dealing with risk management and occupational-related health problems, which are key concerns of employers today.

Irritant – A chemical, which is not corrosive, but which causes a reversible inflammatory effect on living tissue by chemical action at the site of contact.

Lower Explosive Limit (LEL) - The lowest concentration (percentage) of a gas or a vapor in air capable of producing a flash of fire in the presence of an ignition source (arc, flame, heat). The term is considered by many safety professionals to be the same as the lower flammable limit (LFL).

Noise – Unwanted sound that can lead to hearing loss or stress, or interfere with the ability to hear other sounds or to communicate.

Noise Dosimetry Studies - Personal sampling devices (noise dosimeters) are placed on selected individuals at the beginning of a work shift and are removed at shift’s end. From this, detailed readings of dosages and exposure levels are recorded.

Noise Mapping (Area Sound Surveys) – Studies to identify areas where maximum noise levels are present and provide enough information to identify “hearing protection required” areas.

Octave Band Filter – An octave-band filter is commonly used in noise control to perform spectral analysis. It has the ability to split the audible spectrum into smaller bands, identifying the frequency content of the noise.

Permissible Exposure Limits (PEL) – The legal limit in the United States for exposure of an employee to a chemical substance or physical agent. For chemicals, the chemical regulation is usually expressed in parts per million (ppm) or sometimes in milligrams per cubic meter (mg/m3).

Personal sampling devices (noise dosimeters) - Instruments are placed on selected individuals at the beginning of a work shift and are removed at shift’s end. From this, detailed readings of dosages and exposure levels are recorded.

Qualitative Exposure Analysis – Analysis of exposure based on observation, open ended or unstructured interviews and conversational analysis.

Quantitative Exposure Analysis – Analysis the results of which can be measured or a number applied or variables applied through use of statistics such as injury statistics, measurements of airborne contaminants, and noise surveys.

Sorbent Tube – The most widely used collection media for sampling hazardous gases and vapors in air, mostly as it relates to Industrial hygiene. Sorbent tubes are typically made of glass and contain various types of solid adsorbent material such as activated charcoal, silica gel, and organic porous polymers.

Sound Surveys (or Sound Level Surveys) - The wide-ranging beginning documentation of sound levels throughout a facility. As a result of this survey, a report is developed which includes all sound level readings and a Summary of Noise Exposure, as well as discussion and steps for OSHA compliance. If dosimetry studies are conducted during this survey, a Summary of Dosimetry Studies is presented and discussed in the report. If dosimetry is not conducted at the time of the survey, jobs and/or areas requiring personal sampling devices are identified.

Threshold Limit Value (TLV) – refers to the airborne concentration of a substance to which it is believed that nearly all workers may be continually exposed day after day (for 8 hours per day) without detrimental effect.

Upper Explosive Limit (UEL) – The highest concentration (percentage) of a gas or a vapor in air capable of producing a flash of fire in presence of an ignition source (arc, flame, heat). Concentrations higher than UFL or UEL are "too rich" to burn.

Volatility - The tendency or ability of a liquid to vaporize. Such liquids as alcohol and gasoline, because of their well-known tendency to evaporate rapidly, are called volatile liquids.

Water Reactive – A chemical that reacts with water to release a gas that either represents a health hazard or is flammable.

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