Occupational health is an often-neglected area in developing countries. The personal and social impact of work-related ill health is enormous but the need for employment is often used as an argument against improving health and safety standards. It is vitally important that the few occupational hygienists working in this challenging environment make their voices heard and constantly strive to demonstrate that ‘decent work’ is not only an employee’s right but is also cost effective in the long term for employers.

Rob Ferrie
Head of Occupational Hygiene National Institute for Occupational Health, South Africa​


Enforcing inspectors visit businesses to check compliance with regulations and can bring legal action when problems are found. Inspectors are often health and safety generalists, who call in specialist occupational hygienists when help is needed to carry out surveys and provide advice.


Senior hygienists may also be involved in making national policy and regulation which can include:

  • Serving on national and international committees
  • Liaising with many national scientific, industrial and academic bodies
  • Commissioning or conducting research
  • Collating data for standard setting
  • Producing guidance on the whole spectrum of prevention and control issues
  • Drafting and reviewing legislation

State Services

Some countries provide state occupational hygiene services, through central institutes of occupational health. These services may have research, enforcement or advisory roles, and are often laboratory based.