History of Occupational Hygiene in France
Industrial Hygiene started in France at the beginning of the 20th century: In 1900, the Industrial Hygiene Commission was created as part of the ministry of labor. This commission was integrated in 1976 within the “Counsel for the prevention of professional risks”. This commission was still between the ministry and so called hygienists. (in fact occupational medicine)
In 1905 the first education program was set by the Cnam (Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers) in Paris under the direction of Frédéric-Louis Heim de Balsac who was a researcher for the sanitation of industries and hygienic improvements of workshops. In 1908, Heim de Balsac created an Industrial Hygiene and Occupational Medicine Institute, dedicated to sanitation of work environments and prophylaxis of occupational diseases.
In 1921, the institute was joined with the faculty of medicine: it was the end for industrial hygiene and the rise of occupational medicine.
In 1989, there was an issue of the frame European directive and occupational hygiene was back.
In 1991 the French Occupational Hygienists Society was founded and in 1992 the Industrial Hygiene and Environment Institute (IHIE) opened in Lyon. This institute was part of Cnam in Paris (again)
At this time Occupational Hygiene is developed in large industries and mainly in American or British companies operating in France.
Société Française des Hygiénistes du Travail (SOFHYT)
According to the French law set in 1901 the French Occupational Hygienists society was created by Andre Joly Industrial hygiene manager in IBM (bylaws on June 25, 1991 – OJFR July 24, 1991
Founding members represented large industries (industrial hygienist, safety engineers, occupational physicians, toxicologists etc) universities and institutes.
According to the bylaws, the main objectives of SOFHYT are:
- To promote and develop Occupational hygiene, professional ethics and cooperation with institutes and professional groups.
- To promote and accredit an education program in occupational hygiene
- To participate to the strategy of prevention in occupational hygiene but also in safety and environment
- To develop contacts with other associations having similar goals and to represent its members in national and international events
- To encourage studies and research in the field of occupational hygiene and to participate to norms setting in this domain
- To be the preferred contact of the public administration
A code of ethics was created in the same year. This allowed SOFHYT to be a member of IOHA
The main objectives of SOFHYT at the start were:
- An annual forum : a one-day seminar to provide an opportunity of meeting and exchanges between members
- Training courses aimed to train industrial hygienists in specific disciplines
- And the strong point; workgroups
The first actions in communication were to create a logo and leaflet. A Newsletter was also edited 3 to 4 times a year for internal communication.
Since 2018 SOFHYT is also proposing an annual free technical day to its members with collaboration with suppliers or other organisations.
In 2019, SOFHYT changed its logo and modified its website to align it to the new colours of SOFHYT.
The education program in occupational health
In 1996 a workgroup was created further to a request for collaboration from IHIE. The institute contacted professionals in order to develop an education program in industrial hygiene and environment.
The objective was to train engineers able to manage an industrial hygiene and environment programs.
This education program was ready in 1998 and institutes were opened in Amiens in 1999, Angers in 1999 and Paris in 2001. The institute in Lyon opened in 1992 and used the remodeled program in 1998
The program was updated in 2002 to fulfill the European format for a master degree. The new degree was registered in the National Register for Professional Certification (RNCP) at level 1 (Arrete of October 2nd, 2006 – OJFR October 26, 2006). The degree was a master according to the European format – 120 credits (from a bachelor degree to a master degree).
In 2019, SOFHYT promoted the first french-speaking training on the basics on Industrial Hygiene following the courses validated by OHTA.
The professional certification
Further to the successful implementation of the education program, a new step with the professional certification allowed France to be at the same level of the most advanced countries in occupational hygiene
The Occupational Hygienist Professional Certification Commission was set in 2008 (CCPHT) during the annual meeting of SOFHYT. The dossier was submitted to the IOHA NAR committee in September 2009 and SOFHYT was accredited on December 18, 2009.
This was also an opportunity to review the code of ethics and to set an Ethics Committee for its administration.
The internet site
In July 2010 the SOFHYT internet site was launched (www.sofhyt.fr). This new communication tool is for industrial hygienists and all professionals in the related field.
Our objective is to have more members to show that a profession has been born and is able to grow.