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The Art of Industrial Hygiene Communication

Michelle Campbell | June 20, 2023

Best Practices for Effective Problem Solving and More Successful Projects

Industrial Hygienists occasionally get urgent calls from a client, where we need to quickly form a plan and solve a problem. Acting quickly is an essential part of every industrial hygiene professional’s role. While we as professionals can be expected to be familiar with the contaminants which are the source of a complaint and have solid reference materials to advance our knowledge and understanding, it is excellent communication that ultimately determines if the best possible solution is being delivered.

Opportunities to leverage effective communication practices start the moment a client calls or emails. Understanding your own personal communication style and being aware of key best practices can help industrial hygiene professionals achieve better outcomes for their clients and advance their career development.

Communication is a skill that you can learn. It’s like riding a bicycle or typing. If you’re willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life.

Brian Tracy

Understanding Your Communication Style

There are four main communication styles and understanding yours and that of your coworkers, clients and even loved ones can mean greater clarity, fewer misunderstandings and, in the language of industrial hygiene, less data gaps. Which one describes you?

Most of us don’t use a single communication style in every interaction but pull from a combination of the styles to fit the situation. In general, assertive communication is most likely to lead to respectful and longer-term relationships, something we all strive for professionally and personally.

Effective Communication Tips for Industrial Hygienists

Let’s face it, communication is not traditionally the strongest skill for many scientists and engineers. We have to practice getting better in this area. Here are a few tips to help you on that journey:

  1. Actively listen – This cannot be stressed enough. Industrial hygienists are intellectuals, we are compensated for knowing and understanding lots of very difficult concepts and scientific principles, but there is a time for sharing. The first step to effectively communicate is to listen to what others have to say. We should be listening to understand and not just to provide a response.
  2. Be engaged – This means connecting with your clients’ and coworkers. Be genuinely interested in what they are sharing with you. This can be difficult to do in the age of never-ending notifications and busy schedules. Paying full attention and giving someone your time for the duration of that conversation will make the interaction more meaningful for both and will ensure you don’t miss out on important details.
  3. Stay curious – It is important to stay curious in this profession. This means not introducing our own bias’s or making assumptions that we know what the problem is before we have heard all the details. Experience is invaluable to industrial hygienists, but we have to make sure we approach every project and every interaction with the same inquisitiveness we had on our very first day.
  4. Be patient – As industrial hygienists we are engaged in very difficult situations that create high levels of stress for all involved. Remember that your audience may not understand your science right away and you may have to find several different ways to communicate it to ensure they really comprehend.
  5. Provide a recap – After we have actively listened and engaged, it is always a great idea to recap your understanding of the conversation. Keep it to key points, use language that is relatable and doesn’t take a dictionary to decipher and deliver your information concisely, it will be appreciated and will help make sure you are on the same page.

If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.

Albert Einstein

How TRC Can Help

TRC’s experienced industrial hygienists are here to help you find the best solutions for your health and safety challenges. Our skilled team are highly effective communicators and have demonstrated critical information gathering and effective communication experience across our client base. We can help you develop targeted approaches and programs meeting the needs of all stakeholders.


Michelle Campbell

Michelle Campbell is TRC’s National Service Leader for Industrial Hygiene located in Irvine, California. She has over 19 years of experience in environment, health and safety consulting with a focus on industrial hygiene program design. Ms. Campbell’s experience includes, hazardous and regulated materials assessments; development, implementation, and management of health and safety programs; health and safety training; health and safety auditing for regulatory compliance; occupational exposure assessments; exposure banding; and hazardous waste storage and management audits. As National Servicer Leader, she is responsible for program and technical development, strategic growth and overall performance of the Industrial Hygiene Assessment and Controls Services team. Michelle can be reached at

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