Young Hygienist Snapshot: Al Threlfall

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Al is an Occupational Hygienist, a graduate of the University of Newcastle, and is currently completing the MSc OHP at the UOW. Al has worked in some pretty rare and remote regions of Australia, and always has a fresh perspective on things…which also makes him an interesting tweeter! Follow him at his new home @topendhygienist Here is 5 mins with Al:

Best location I have worked: Nothing stands out but I love going to new places and seeing how things are done, I’ve now worked on large open cut mines, 1.5 km underground, on huge processing plants and in important public buildings.  I’m now on one of the largest construction projects in the country as the only hygienist.

The best thing about my job is: that its a lot like myth busters, there are so many things people think will hurt them but in reality the things they don’t worry about are the things they should worry about. Using science as a hygienist, I can help people see the real problems.

Career Highlight:  In terms of actually doing hygiene work, would be being able to show that installation of exhaust filters on underground plant dramatically reduced DPM exposure backing up an expensive call by management to put people before the budget. [Technical Note: DPM = Diesel Particulate Matter, a carcinogen]

If you want to be an Occupational Hygienist, you’d better get used to: weird hours and people not being totally cooperative.

People normally think my job involves: how clean surfaces are. You know that look when people think they know what you do, but aren’t too sure, and wonder why anyone would do what they are thinking it is.

The best thing I’ve been asked to do was: crawl around the hidden spaces and back collections for a number of our museums and galleries.  I got to see a lot of stuff that the general public wouldn’t get the opportunity to see as well as having the curators as the tour guide.

The worst thing I’ve been asked to do was: take samples of sewerage at a dog pound.

The best part of a career in hygiene is: the other hygienists. Even though we quite often work for competitors, the collaboration between us is amazing. I know I can pick up the phone and talk to someone else that understands my problems and talk through it with them.  I haven’t met a hygienist yet that turns their back on another hygienist.

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