Nick Vaughan, the PPE #hygienegod

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Nick has been working at the HSL since before I was born, so he is probably glad that I am now considered young…but that is still a long time!

The use of PPE is the lowest thing on the food chain when it comes to controlling exposure to workers, yet it is probably the most commonly used control measure in our industry. Although we might use it all the time, that doesn’t mean that we always use (or prescribe) the right type of PPE for the task, so I was very happy to be in the company of a PPE #hygienegod today. Here is a quick snapshot of what we talked about:

Q: What exciting things are you currently working on?

A: At the moment we are looking at compressed air visors for motor vehicle repair workers performing spray painting activities. It is common for spray painters to lift their visors after spraying to inspect their work. The problem with doing this is that they potentially inhale high concentrations of isocyanate (a respiratory sensitiser). We are looking at the actual exposure concentrations of doing this (although we’re using a non-toxic alternative of course!).

Q: What is your pet gripe when it comes to PPE?

A: It would have to be the media. It is difficult to find someone wearing PPE correctly on a TV programme. For example, I have seen people wearing surgical masks in a lead mine and I’ve seen people perform confined space entries using a dust mask…upside down. It’s hard to watch.

Q: Can you share some words of wisdom for other young hygienists and safety professionals?

A: Just remember that if you don’t know the answer, that somebody out there does. So if you don’t know it, you need to get out there and find them!

This is just a taste of the interview I was fortunate enough to have today at the HSL. For more information, including Nick Vaughn’s insights into PPE for clandestine laboratories (drug labs!), and EN suit types, look out for the article in the next edition of OH Matters. Not a member of the AIOH? It’s easy…just join here and you’ll be on the mailing list.


(Picture courtesy of

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