Renea Ramanan

Project title: Role of Industrial Hygiene Compliance Visits in Overall Worker Health and Safety

Degree: MS (Applied) | Program: Applied Occupational Hygiene (App OH) | Project type: Project
Completed in: 2022 | Faculty advisor: Marissa Baker


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) enforces the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act, which is a federal plan enforceable throughout the United States. Any state can have an approved state plan as long as the safety and health rules and regulations in the state plan are either as stringent or more stringent than OSHA rules and regulations. The State of Washington has its own safety and health regulations under the Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act (WISHA), enforced by the Department of Labor and Industries (L&I). The federal OSH Act and the Washington State WISHA plan have certain differences, but they are similar in that they both require compliance inspections. The role of these inspections is to promote the prevention of safety and health hazards, help with abatement of hazards, and enforce occupational safety and health standards. Inspections also increase compliance with occupational safety and health regulations.

The mission of L&I is to keep Washington safe and working. They have five core values and goals, and the units within L&I include the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) compliance and consultation units, and the worker’s compensation units, amongst others. All units, fit into one or more of the five core values, which are tied to the L&I mission.

I interned at L&I as part of the DOSH Industrial Hygiene (IH) compliance unit in the Region 3 Tacoma office. A complete DOSH IH compliance inspection includes: the opening conference, a walk-around inspection, employee interviews, and a closing conference. An opening conference is where the Compliance Safety and Health Officer (CSHO) explains why they are at the worksite and explain every step of the inspection process. A closing conference is when a CSHO explains the results of their inspection, any proposed violations, and postage requirements after the inspection. I completed 26 field visits. I observed a total of 12 opening conferences, 10 walk-around inspections, 4 employee interviews, and 8 closing conferences for my internship at L&I. Additionally, I participated in two sampling events, and two L&I site visits. For one of the sampling events, I accompanied a DOSH IH consultant, and I made a Noise Sampling Summary Table report for this sampling event.

I compared the DOSH IH compliance inspections I observed on my internship to the DOSH IH Compliance inspections outlined in the DOSH Compliance Manual. This inspection consisted of the opening conference, the walk around inspection, employee interviews, and the closing conference. The observed compliance inspection and the compliance inspection described in the DOSH Compliance Manual were very similar, with slight differences. Overall, my recommendations and lessons are directed toward future interns.

This internship experience strengthened my resolve to become a Certified Industrial Hygienist and pursue employment in this field after earning a Master of Science in Occupational Hygiene. I can see myself working in any position that allows me to protect workers from occupational health and safety hazards, whether in private industry or in a government agency.