Young Hygienist Snapshot: Mabely Wise [International Edition]

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I meet Mabely Wise back in 2013 at AIHA’s CIH preparation course in Ann Arbour, Michigan where we quickly bonded, grumbling over calculations.  Lucky for me we have stayed in touch and even got the chance to catch up at AIHce in San Antonio last year.

Mabely was born and raised in Cali, Colombia, and for over five years has provided Occupational Health and Safety consulting services to employers in North and South America. Since 2013 Mabely has been working in the role of Product Stewardship Specialist with Materion Brush Inc, a role that she very much enjoys, captivating her interest to continue learning and growing in this discipline complementary to industrial hygiene.

So some of the things that Mabely loves: Travelling, meeting people, dancing (she is Columbian after all!), playing play spy games (and winning!), being connected with awesomeness (God) and watching and cheering Colombian soccer games (Yes, the team of James Rodriguez, the World Cups Golden Boot! amongst many other Columbian Soccer Stars :) …. “Proud Smile”

So here’s 5 mins with Mabely:

1. Best location I have worked: This is difficult to respond without being biased and unfair…of course that I would say due to my ties to my native city that Cali, Colombia is the best location that I have ever worked in! (just think about it…awesome weather, people, food, lots of fun that without mentioning the endless opportunities to make a difference right there in the spot on workers’ health protection), but I’d most say that being in the USA and having the opportunities to work in St Louis, Missouri and currently in Cleveland, Ohio have given me the opportunity to expand and grow my professional experience exponentially in IH while fulfilling with my mission of protecting workers health, for which I am very grateful.

2. The best thing about my job is: Helping Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) to protect the health of their workers. I work as a Product Stewardship Specialist, and thanks to the all-encompassing Product Stewardship Program at Materion Brush Inc., I have had the opportunity to support the EHS Programs of SME in the USA and that fulfils my heart! We do so by visiting our customers, vendors and fabricators (who at several occasions are SME’s) to educate them on how to safely use and handle our materials and to provide them as needed with related EHS services, including; air monitoring and exposure control reports at no cost…and for me, that rocks!

3.Career Highlight: Again, supporting SME’s to develop their EHS programs and protect their workers’ health. In my opinion, SME’s are in great need of our services but unfortunately due to either a lack of resources or resourcefulness, employers at these enterprises struggle to keep up with health and safety standards, consequently the health and well-being of their employees are jeopardized.

4. If you want to be an Occupational Hygienist, you’d better get used to: Being flexible and to temporarily giving up access to some commodities (bathroom, water, tea or whatever you drink). Also, you better get used to being surrounded by a circle of passionate and “science nuts” professionals, thus you must be willing to keep up with the professions scientific developments and be eager to continue learning and updating yourself in matter related to your career.

5. People normally think my job involves: Cleaning teeth or cleaning facilities.

6. The best thing I’ve been asked to do was: To participate in the American Industrial Hygiene Association 2014 Future Leaders Institute Program, that was an honor!

7. The worst thing I’ve been asked to do was: Hasn’t happened quite yet…still waiting for that “crazy” challenge.


All Young Hygienists + 3M = Opportunity to attend IOHA London 2015

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2 Days ago 3M launched a fantastic competition, offering the opportunity for a young hygienist to win a place worth USD $5000 to attend IOHA London 2015.

“Following on from the recent 3M Young Hygienist of the Year competition, we are delighted to team up with BOHS to offer another terrific opportunity for a second young professional to attend IOHA 2015”.

“This new competition for a place at IOHA 2015 will offer the lucky winner a great chance to be exposed to four stimulating days of learning from the very best in the occupational hygiene profession, as well networking with colleagues, vendors and suppliers.” –  Nicole Vars McCullough, 3M Personal Safety Division’s Global Technical Services Manager.

Young Hygienists don’t miss this opportunity!

To enter, you have to be:

  • aged 40 or under as at 31 December 2015 (AKA a Young Hygienist); and
  • a member of BOHS or any of the other IOHA member societies, in good standing.

You will receive:

  • a full conference place for IOHA 2015 London  (27th to 30th April), including a ticket for the gala dinner;
  • hotel accommodation for 4 nights; and
  • travel and subsistence costs of up to $2000, which are reclaimable.

NOTE: If you have are already registered to attend IOHA2015, you can still enter (as long as you meet the criteria of course) – if you win, your registration fee will be reimbursed!

The business end of the competition.

By the 24th March 2015 applicants need to:

  • create a Powerpoint presentation on the following topic: ‘Getting your PPE Facts right – 5 facts and 5 myths’
  • upload the presentation to and promote this via Twitter, tagging @bohsworld and using the hashtags #IOHA2015 #3Mcompetition

Myth or Fact

Young Hygiene Graduate Snapshot: Julie Toseski

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Young Hygiene Graduate Snapshot_4

I am excited to introduce Julie Toseski, our first Young Hygiene Graduate SNAPSHOT participant!!

Julie is a passionate OHS practitioner who has worked in the Private Forestry Industry for the past 9 years.  Lucky for us, Julie fell in love with OH in 2012, enrolled at the University of Wollongong (UOW) and in December 2014 graduated with a Master of Science (Occupational Hygiene Practice), one of the highlights of her life!

Julie’s infectious energy for life, love of a challenge and an eagerness to learn and grow within the OH profession has recently paid off as she has secured an internship with NIOSH, based at their Cincinnati office this coming June and July (Julie = happy face; Me = jealous face).

Julie reports her long-term dream is to someday develop and grow further within the OH research field.   Did I mention Julie is now completing a Master of Public Health (Hons) at Griffith University in Queensland!!!

5 mins with Julie:

 1. I chose to pursue a career in OH because: I actually stumbled on the field when I was asked to compile an Asbestos Management Plan and Register for the company I worked for. The more I researched what OH was all about, the more I fell in love with it and the diversity it offered. I was awarded a high commendation award from WorkCover NSW at the 2012 Safe Work Awards for my efforts and knew right then that OH was my calling….protecting and promoting worker health and safety and the community at large, and making a difference, however small it was.

2. My dream hygiene job is:  Working alongside fantastic hygienists who are just as passionate, enthusiastic and driven as I am with a vision to influence, change and improve the health and well being of workers from all levels and vast backgrounds.

3. The hardest subject matter I had to learn was:  Measurement of Hazardous Substances was my first every unit and after the week intensive at UOW I remember feeling a little overwhelmed and second-guessing my career choice! (this and the fact that Hendo (John Henderson) scared the hell out of me! :o))) As the weeks progressed, and I completed unit after unit, I gained more confidence in what I could offer. I never lost sight of what needed to be done and what I needed to do to achieve my goals. ‘Never give up’ is my motto…taking a risk and challenging your comfort zone can eventuate the most memorable and life changing experiences :o)

4. My hygiene god is: As I’m predominantly new to the OH field, I would have to say that I have a sphere of hygiene gods that have influenced my growth on this journey thus far.  These predominantly include Jane Whitelaw, John (Hendo) Henderson, Frank Hearl, Alan Rogers, Linda Anthorpe, Tim White and Ross Di Corletto to name a few.

5. My advice to anyone thinking about pursuing studying occupational hygiene is: Go for it…you will never look back. The learning opportunities are vast and rewarding. A keen desire to learn, develop and grow with ever-changing environments of the workplace, evolving sciences and technologies is a must though. OH is soo infectious…once you’re hooked, your hooked for life…nothing else compares :o). Good luck on your journey!


Young Hygienist Snapshot: Jane Whitelaw

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Jane Whitelaw is a true Australian Hygiene God and current coordinator of the Master of Work Health and Safety program at the University of Wollongong……………..among other things!

Those of us who have been fortunate enough to have worked with, or be taught and mentored by Jane will testify to her energetic and relentless action to promote the education and development of hygienists, not just in Australia, but globally.  Speaking from my own personal experience I have no doubt Jane has significantly influenced the development and shaped the careers of countless hygienists and safety professionals, with many more yet to come.   And yes, I do consider myself to be one of the lucky ones!

So here’s 5 mins with Jane:

Best location I have worked: My first job as an 18yr old chemistry trainee was at an aluminium smelter in the middle of the Hunter Valley Vineyards. Part of my job was monthly environmental sampling where we’d pick the grape leaves to analyse for fluoride – at the same time picking up a few bottles of grape juice for later!

The best thing about my job is: Being a positive influence of peoples health…a small intervention today can reap lifelong reward as far as health goes.

Career Highlight: Achieving CIH at the age of 29 (in the days when there were no cheat sheets for the calculations) and still being considered a young (at heart) hygienist!

If you want to be an Occupational Hygienist, you’d better get used to: Thinking on your feet and using all five of your senses.  As my Mum would say “God gave you two ears and one mouth – listen twice as much as you speak” I’m still working on that one!!!

People normally think my job involves: Health and Safety of some sort. I’ve had 30 yrs to get an answer ready for when I’m asked.

The best thing I’ve been asked to do was: Join Brian Davies and the team at the University of Wollongong. I learn something new every day and it’s a great environment to work in. The most fulfilling part is sharing my passion with and sowing into the lives of the next generation of Occupational Hygienists across the world.

The worst thing I’ve been asked to do was: For many years I analysed about 500 urinary fluorides/yr  for smelter workers who weren’t always the most hydrated workforce I’ve seen….wish I had that data to write up now!

Jane Whitelaw

Terrified of Public Speaking? You should do an Ignite Session!

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(OK so I couldn’t stay away for too long…yes I’m back for a fleeting moment…but as a guest blogger this time!)

If someone had told me a few years ago that I would get up and speak at an international conference, to a crowded room, and be filmed doing it, my heart would have popped up into my chest and an awful fear of dread would have come over me instantly. The fear that I had associated with public speaking had overcome any possibility of me ever considering dong anything like that.

There was nothing rational about the fear though. I have always had the ability to stand up, speak, and communicate a point…but doing that at pre-starts or tool box talks, or management meetings somehow was completely different in my brain, compared to standing behind a lectern with a microphone, where I would instantly lose my ability for words to flow out of my mouth in any normal order.

It was my manager who told me that I just had to get over it, and that the only way of doing that, was to go out and get outside my comfort zone and do some public speaking. He is actually a great guy, and he gave me some good tips along the way. The most useful one of which, was to practise repeatedly…over and over…so much that you can do it with your eyes closed.

So, with that in mind, I submitted an abstract at the AIOH conference back in 2012. When it got accepted…and I realised that I actually had to speak at the Conference, I felt a small amount of joy, and a lot of fear! At the time though I just thought to myself, “get over it“, and I practised the paper for what felt like an eternity…but what may have been around 4 weeks. I’d love to say that I didn’t feel nervous while doing it, that I made no errors, or that it was easy…it was none of those things, but honestly, it wasn’t that bad!  At the end of it, I felt a wave of relief rush over me, and I was glad I did it.

Since then, I’ve presented many more papers in different settings, so much so, that the nerves are going away and are mostly gone, largely due to my incessant need to practice over and over until I think I’ve nailed it. Flash forward to April last year, and I thought that it would be a good idea to push myself out of my comfort zone that I had created in my head and I put my hand up to present at an Ignite session at the BOHS Conference in the UK.

Ignite sessions are a little different. They are 5-minute presentations where the PPT slides auto-advance every 15 seconds i.e. you have no control over the slides….they turn themselves! Even better is that they are filmed and posted onto YouTube.  Cue instant heart-attack.

Everything was going well while I was writing it, but when I started to practice, the enormity of the whole “auto-advance” thing was a tad terrifying. I mean, if you stuff up one slide…you can’t necessarily go back and say it again…you just have to pick it up and really, “get over it“.

I was so nervous in the morning of the Ignite session, but I was quickly calmed by the session chair Alex, and the other brave souls who were also scheduled to talk. Once the session kicked off, I watched in awe at the other Ignite presenters. They seemed cool, comfortable, and like they were having a great time. Watching them helped steady me for the whopping 5-minute talk I had ahead of me….and then it was time.

Maybe it was due to the friendly atmosphere at the BOHS Conference, maybe it was due to the fact that I felt silly wearing a Go-Pro on my head, or the fact that I had practiced this 5-min talk for what seemed like an eternity, but standing up there presenting at the Ignite session was honestly a lot of fun. Even better was the feeling once it was done! I felt a great sense of achievement (I didn’t stuff up too badly) and I have seemed to have overcome my irrational fear of doing what I do every day – talk. Just in front of more people. With a microphone. Easy! WHat a way of putting yourself out of your comfort zone…here is me and my attempt at an Ignite session…constructive criticism only please!

So why am I telling you all of this? Because I honestly thought that public speaking just came naturally to everyone. I thought that no-one else practices their talks, and I thought that I would never be one of those people. But by putting myself out there, I am slowly becoming one of those people. I’m no Oprah, and by watching my Ignite video, I can safely say that I could say, “…ummm” a little less! But if I had have shown that video to myself 3 years ago, I never would have believed it.

Sometimes we just need a little “push” for us to get over our fears. Luckily, the BOHS are hosting another Ignite session this year at IOHA2015 in London, and the call for abstracts is out now. The AIHA also has a call for applications out for their Ignite session at AIHce 2015 to be held in Salt Lake City, Utah. So you can’t use geography as an excuse :)

Maybe you just need a little “push” outside your own comfort zone for you to consider submitting an abstract. If you need some more inspiration, then you should watch the mother of all Ignite presentations delivered by #hygienegod Kim Merritt. How can you watch this and not want to do one?

Happy viewing!



Young Hygienist Snapshot: Kristie Davies

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Kristie is one of the first graduates of the UOW’s Masters of Science Occupational Hygiene Program, and currently works as an energetic Workplace Health and Safety Coordinator at a Peabody Energy underground coal mine in NSW, Australia.

5 mins with Kristie:

Best location I have worked:  That’s a hard one. I have been lucky enough to work on various remediation projects and a number of mine sites, always learning and improving skills at each role.

An interesting asbestos remediation project that always sticks in my mind was located in Batam, Indonesia. Instructions were to fly to Singapore, then ferry across to Batam. Upon arrival in Batam, I had to pay for my visa (US dollars), and I would be collected by a site representative. Simple enough I hear you say and I thought so too.

All was going smoothly until Indonesian border security starts questioning me. Unfortunately not being able to speak the native tongue; and watching your Australian passport being waved about and start walking away, can make you feel very nervous. Luckily for me the site representative had arrived and was able to sort everything out. (Heart back in chest, breathe!).

The best thing about my job is:  There is never a dull moment. Locations and type of work can vary which always keeps my hygiene mind in overdrive, and makes work very interesting. Also meeting other hygienists and health professionals at different locations is a bonus.

Career Highlight: Being able to travel and work and see some amazing locations. And always surviving, after constantly being thrown in the deep end!  I have met some wonderful hygienist along the way (You know who you are!) who are always there for support and assistance.  It’s a privilege to know some of the #hygienegods, in particular studying under the fabulous guidance of Brian Davies, Jane Whitelaw and John Henderson.

If you want to be an Occupational Hygienist, you’d better get used to: Being flexible and adaptable. Things don’t always go to plan!

People normally think my job involves: Ensuring everything is hygienically clean; from lunch rooms to bathrooms; including personal hygiene (ensuring you can wash your hands correctly).

The best thing I’ve been asked to do was: Join the UOW Occupational Hygiene program by Brian Davies at a career fair day.  Originally I was studying to be a dietitian. I am passionate about maintaining good health, and I enjoy sharing this knowledge to help others achieve this, whether it is at work or socially.

The worst thing I’ve been asked to do was: Nothing really comes to mind; I try to view everything as a learning experience. One such experience was my first trip in an underground coal mine, busting for the toilet, where I was taken and to this day I describe as a box trailer with a toilet seat attached to one end, and no brattice anywhere. My guide was my look out at one cut through – and those of you who have been underground can imagine being female and trying to use a toilet!

Kristie Davies

Well hello, who are you?

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Custodian of the #younghygienist blog! Well I cannot guarantee I will be as funny, however I will exhaust all effort to be as enlightening as our #hygienegodintraining Kate Cole!

I would like to congratulate Kate on all that she has achieved with the blog during 2014, in particular promoting the Occupational Hygiene profession. Big shoes to fill you think? Yes, I think so!

So who am I then? I am Holly Fletcher and yes, you guessed it I am also a #younghygienist in my mid thirties. Those who know me would say I get slightly excited about all things Occupational Hygiene!

It’s hard to believe that I grew up on a sheep and cattle farm in a small farming town by the name of walcha in Northern NSW, Australia. As a child I am pretty sure I wanted to be a pop singer and by the time I reached secondary school, I was sure I wanted to be the physiotherapist for the Australian Rugby team thewallabies

I don’t know much, but one thing I do know, sometimes things don’t always work out as you expect it!

Now people will ask “how did you get “into” hygiene”? As much as I would love to say that my dad had a consulting hygienist to assist him to control workers exposure to agricultural chemicals, dusts, noise and in particular biological health hazards, and that occupational hygienist inspired me to pursue the same career path, unfortunately that is not my reality.

My story is similar to the majority of other hygienists I meet i.e. I was introduced to this career by introduction to another hygienist. Lucky for me I was inspired by a fantastic #younghygienist with a huge amount of energy and passion for her job. One day I ask her what “all the numbers meant”?  In more or less words she explained how her team performed sampling activities to collect “the numbers” which she would then use to make decisions regarding risk for purposes of protectingworkerhealth.

Like most others I really didn’t understand the whole numbers bit, however I did accompany her in the field to perform sampling and that’s when I knew what I wanted to do when I grew up!

That’s when I enrolled and completed a Masters of Occupational Hygiene Practice OHP at the UoW and now I do understand the whole numbers bit!

These days, although relatively early in my career as a #younghygienist I have had some amazing experiences working with inspirational #hygienegods in some incredible locations in Australia, the United Arab Emirates and now in Laos, where I am currently working.

My intention of becoming the custodian of the #younghygienist blog for 2015 is for one reason only. That is to promote the occupational hygiene profession, not only in Australia, but globally. I don’t doubt my story about how I came to be an occupational hygienist is unique in any way; it just presents the question “how many other occupational hygienists are out there that don’t know it yet”?

In 2015 the #younghygienist blog will showcase occupationalhygiene as a career to promote the profession so we can be successful in protecting worker health.


Holly Fletcher and Kate Cole – AIOH2013