Young Hygienist Snapshot: Gillian Felton

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Gillian is a Certified Occupational Hygienist based in WA with South West Occupational Health Services. She was awarded a postgraduate scholarship to complete the MSc OHP program at UOW, of which she graduated last year. Gillian gets to work in some remote (yet wonderful!) locations. She is an all-round lovely person, and always has some interesting stories to share of her experiences.

So here is 5-mins with Gillian:

Best location I have worked: I’ve been pretty lucky as a consultant to have had the chance to work in a variety of places and industries ranging from exploration, mining, refining, oil & gas, construction as well as conducting work for small workshops and industries. Each one has its own unique challenges, positives and negatives, making it hard to choose the best location. But I would have to say that when I get a job that requires me to go to the Pilbara it’s a good start, because that is just some of the most spectacular countryside that puts a smile on my face at the start of everyday.

The best thing about my job is: Getting out there with the workers and meeting lots of different people. You get to hear lots of interesting life stories – it’s not always about work  🙂

Career Highlight: Sitting and passing the COH exam – One of the best and most nerve racking experiences. [Side note: To become a Certified Occupational Hygienist, which is the highest level of professional expertise, you need to sit an oral exam in front of a minimum of three other COHs. It’s only available to sit once per year, and I agree it’s a very nerve racking experience!]

If you want to be an Occupational Hygienist, you’d better get used to: People running away from you…I’m sure that I should have a complex by now …how to make a guy run in the other direction show him a dust pump or noise dosimeter.

People normally think my job involves: Ensuring that they have washed their hands after being to the toilet. As I have just shaken your hand introducing myself, I am really hoping that you have washed your hands.

The best thing I’ve been asked to do was: Each job has its parts that make it interesting, but I would have to say that I enjoy working on shutdowns – they are long hours and hard work, but I work as part of a great team, I get to climb all over the process units testing for contaminants to ensure that it is safe for the workers, and implement the appropriate controls for what I find. As part of this work, I am out there talking to the workers, educating them about what I’m finding, the risks and what we’re doing, I also get to see inside vessels, exchangers and columns that are not part of the normal routine maintenance and therefore I can learn so much about the processes and hazards. As a side to this, I also tend to get very fit quickly with all the climbing and walking!


Gillian (on the right demonstrating her sense of humour!)


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