Charles L. Marshall is best known for helping Tinker Air Force Base recover from a fire at its logistics center in 1984. Hazardous materials had to be properly removed and disposed, and asbestos and chemicals cleaned away so the building — for national defense emergencies — could be rebuilt as quickly as possible. But during 35 years working in the field of industrial hygiene, Marshall figures he’s managed some 9,000 projects. “The field is about applying science to solve problems and make the world a better place to live,” Marshall said. “What’s neat about it today is industrial hygienists don’t just work in the factory, where they traditionally did, but also in the home, where there’s dust and allergens, and community, where there’s noise and air pollution.” Marshall started out solving water pollution problems for city and county health departments, then moved to helping businesses comply with requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Today, the accredited industrial hygienist and doctoral engineer divides his time between consulting and teaching for Southeastern Oklahoma State University’s Aviation Sciences Institute. As an industrial hygienist for the Oklahoma Department of Labor, Jason Young provides free, non-punitive consultation to businesses statewide to help them understand and meet OSHA guidelines. Though coastal and other large companies employ industrial hygienists as safety directors, most firms can’t afford a dedicated employee or to pay for private consultation, Young said. “It’s not just about walking into a place and putting air pumps, microphones or other equipment on employees to monitor chemicals, noise or other hazards,” Young said. “You’ve got to evaluate procedures, take measurements, interpret analysis when it comes back from the lab and ultimately explain to the company what they’re doing right and what they can do better.” Along with the challenges, Young likes the diversity of his clients. “I get to go into many various types of industry and see how everything is made from start to finish,” he said. He’s advised meatpacking facilities and companies that made horse trailers, apparel and more. Program Director Diana Jones also enjoys working in the field. Her most memorable cases, Jones said, involved exposure to lead, which workers can carry home on their hands and clothes. “I knew I was making a difference in the lives of the employer, employees and their families,” she said.Comments
Career spotlightIndustrial hygienist â†’Education: Bachelorâ€™s degree in science and masterâ€™s in industrial hygiene, occupational safety or environmental management. â†’Necessary traits: Strong chemistry, algebra and math skills; analytical; love of problem-solving; detail-oriented; ability to interpret technical analysis and explain it in laymanâ€™s terms. â†’Annual median salary nationwide: $71,993, according to Salary.com. â†’For more information: The American Industrial Hygiene Association (aiha.org) and the American Board of Industrial Hygiene (abih.org).