Young Hygienist Snapshot: Peter Aspinall

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Pete is a Senior Occupational Hygienist…and like me, can struggle to meet the definition of  “young” sometimes…but I figured as I was calling myself “young” – I should call Pete “young” too!

Pete initially got into the Occupational Hygiene world from assisting the busy onsite hygienist when he was tired of twiddling his thumbs as an onsite paramedic/nurse. Pete noticed that the hygienists had cool toys and got to get out of their office a lot more than he did at the time. Some time later, he fell back into occupational hygiene through promoting and training the Airmet range of products. Finally Pete saw the light and moved into the hygiene-consulting world. Since then, Pete has graduated from UOW with the MSc OHP and as he says, “I’m always amazed at where the hygiene work takes me, the people I meet and the many different jobs I get to go to..”.  Well that’s because it’s the #bestjobintheworld!  Here is 5 mins with Pete:

Best location I have worked: Mine sites are not generally regarded as glamorous, “must see destinations”, but I’ve found that the more remote the location the more amazing the experience. My current consulting role with GCG finds me in the Central Highlands of PNG – conducting a very large noise survey.  Definitely a career highlight.

The best thing about my job is: The variety… I can go from getting dirty with the underground miners looking at DPM exposures one day, to assisting clean office clients with lighting and indoor air quality issues (that are more HR issues). Recently I flew into a remote area via helicpter to conduct some work, I felt pretty special arriving in true movie cliché style – with the dust blowing everywhere and people ready to greet me hanging onto their (hard) hats.

If you want to be an Occupational Hygienist, you’d better get used to: Carrying multiple measuring devices and equipment while wearing all the right PPE to set the right example. You should see the volume of personal clothing I can get into my carry-on bag in order to not be overweight with the large equipment bags that I have just checked in.

People normally think my job involves: Just a minute… Let’s face it.  No-one outside of the occupational hygiene industry really understands what we do. I‘ve met safety professionals who have no idea what my job involves. The best thing that we can do as an industry group is to make people aware of what we really do. I was once told that hygienists don’t work, they just watch other people work. I think that we are in the business of watching others so that we ensure they not only go home safely, but they also go home as healthy (or better) as when they came to work.

The best thing I’ve been asked to do was: Apart from being asked to have a small part in the 2011 AIOH Annual Conference in Brisbane, I was asked to help out with hygiene work at a large shutdown at an oil refinery. Spending a few months climbing up high process towers and into small confined spaces to assess and monitor silica exposure risks was a lot of fun and helped me to complete my Master of Science – Occupational Hygiene Practice.

The worst thing I’ve been asked to do was: Anytime a client calls and says… “We have this strange smell in our office that comes and goes… Can you come and tell us what it is?”… I want to run away screaming, “It’s just not that simple!!”petea1 petea2

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