EHS 658: Physical Hazards


EHS 658, Fall semester, 1 credit (Syllabus)

Description: This course covers a range of physical agents (with a special emphasis on noise), and discusses methods for characterizing exposures to these agents, effects of these agents on human health, and the regulations and standards which set limits for exposure to these agents. The basics of measurements and control for these agents are also introduced through hands-on exercises. At the conclusion of this course students will have gained a breadth of knowledge related to the sources, exposures, and health effects of these agents, which will allow them to better understand the public health implications of exposures to these agents. The material presented in class, and the understanding gained though completion of hands-on exercises and a laboratory report, will provide a broad perspective of the importance of physical agents in both workplace and community settings. Students will develop effective written skills in presenting and discussing their scientific findings.

Course objectives: The objectives of this course are:

  • Introduction to workplace and community physical hazards
  • Familiarization with characteristics of the following specific physical agents: noise, human vibration (including whole-body and hand-arm), heat and cold stress, lasers and other non-ionizing radiation spanning the electro-magnetic spectrum from ultraviolet to radio frequency.
  • Familiarization with instruments available to measure noise, vibration, and some electromagnetic frequencies
  • Discussion of health effects, source and exposure measurement methods, controls, and regulations and standards governing exposures to each of these specific physical agents.

Course outcomes: After taking this course, students will be able to:

  • Assess the nature and extent of potential health hazards associated with exposure to physical hazards
  • Identify sources of such physical hazards encountered in the workplace
  • Select the proper method/instrument for measuring source characteristics and worker and community exposure levels
  • Interpret such measurements with respect to current regulatory standards
  • Make informed recommendations for control options to reduce exposures/hazards.