Mitch is a Senior Occupational Hygienist based in Sydney. He is a fellow graduate of the MSc OHP program at the UOW, and is lucky enough to work for Hibbs & Associates, which means that he gets to do some pretty interesting work! Mitch is also one of those all-round nice guys, with a great sense of humour…as this is only a ‘snapshot’, I’ll leave the examples of his humour for future posts perhaps 🙂
Here is 5-mins with Mitch:
So how did you get into Occupational Hygiene? In the beginning, I was under the impression I wanted to be a physiotherapist….how wrong I was! I happened upon occupational hygiene while studying at university, and really haven’t looked back since then. In late 2007, I was offered a vocational role with a large mining company, and since then my passion for the profession has only grown. This profession allows you so much freedom, in that you can specialise in one particular area of interest (e.g. clandestine drug laboratory remediation) or you could work in all sorts of different fields such as; noise, vibration, thermal stress etc etc. The list literally goes on and on. Not only this, but the sharing of information between professionals within the field is like nothing I have ever seen or heard of before. Working as a hygienist in Australia means that you can call on pretty much anyone in the AIOH community for assistance, and they will in fact do their best to help you out.
I’m a pretty active person in my normal day to day life, luckily hygiene allows me to maintain this during my working day. Site work could include walking all over mine sites or up and down stairs of a vessel to get to another area where work is underway. While there is definitely some computer based reporting time, there is an even balance between time spent in the office and time spent out in the field.
Best location you have worked: It’s hard to narrow down the best location as I’ve worked in so many places over my relatively short career, but I’d have to say the following topped the list:
– On top of the Harbour Bridge, what a view;
– North Stradbroke Island in summer, not a bad location for a beach lover; and
– Working on Naval/Bulk/Cruise motor vessels travelling along the Australian east coast, an amazing way to see the ocean and the land from the sea (see pic)
The best thing about your job is: I’d say the most enjoyable thing about my consulting job is getting to meet new people and visiting new workplaces. You’re definitely never bored as a hygienist consultant, the requests to review differing manufacturing process and other varying activities are endless.
Career Highlight: I’ve only been in the game since late 2007, however, I’d say the highlight thus far has been being recognised by my peers by becoming a Certified Occupational Hygienist with the AIOH. In addition, I’d have to say I’ve been extremely lucky to have been educated by and worked with a number of well-respected hygienists, which include; Brian Davies, Jennifer Hines, Philip Hibbs and Dan Le Van. All four of these people have played an extremely important role in shaping not only the professional I am today, but also the person that I have become.
If you want to be an Occupational Hygienist, you’d better get used to: Be prepared for unusual hours of work, as an Occupational Hygienist you’re the first to get to site and the last one to leave. You could be working in the middle of the night or early in the morning, this is all governed by when the process you wish to assess is conducted. One of my favourites for early starts was waking up at 3:30am 5 days in a row, needless to say I was getting a little weary by the fifth day!
People normally think your job involves: Showing people how to wash their hands and cleaning toilets
The best thing you’ve been asked to do was: This would be an endless list, but one of the more interesting jobs I’ve had was working at facility that manufactured and tested weapons and artillery. This was an extremely interesting project, as I was able to see the full process from start (e.g. milling of barrels) to finish (e.g. firing of weapons in the range)! Another awesome thing I got involved in, thanks to Philip Hibbs, was the AIOH conference organising committee. I had a terrific time giving back to the institute and got to forge and strengthen new and old friendships (see pic!).
The most challenging thing you’ve been asked to do was: The most challenging role I’ve had, would be indirectly dealing with union officials on a construction site. This was definitely a difficult situation which I learnt a lot from!