Solitaire is a Health and Safety Specialist at Bengalla Mine in Muswellbrook, NSW. Sol started out with a Bachelor of Science, Sport and Exercise Science and did some work experience in a back rehabilitation clinic whilst at university. During this time she came to realise that perhaps she was working on the wrong side of the fence – ie: trying to help people who had already been injured at work, rather than working to prevent those injuries from occurring in the first place! So she started working for the mining industry in health and safety and ended up performing a lot of occupational hygiene related work, and loved it. So much so that she decided to study a post graduate diploma in Occupational Hygiene at Deakin University. Sol graduated in 2012 and has never looked back! Here is 5-mins with Solitaire:
Best location I have worked: The Upper Hunter Valley, NSW. This is where I currently live and work, it’s an awesome location! It takes me 15 minutes to get to work each day, and on weekends I get to take advantage of the beautiful countryside, the vineyards and the close proximity to Newcastle and Sydney.
The best thing about my job is: The people. Occupational hygiene is all about protecting people. I love that my job requires me to get out in the field to observe and talk to people about their jobs; help them to understand and identify hazards and determine what controls will be appropriate to protect their health.
Career Highlight: Graduating from Deakin University with my Graduate Diploma in Occupational Hygiene in 2012. I had been working in the field for a number of years before this but it was a really great feeling to receive an official qualification.
If you want to be an Occupational Hygienist, you’d better get used to: being a “jack of all trades”, the list of things that you can assist with is never ending. That’s part of the attraction for most people.
People normally think my job involves: Cleaning, or checking that people washed their hands correctly after visiting the bathroom. I recently travelled around Central America on extended leave and one of the first things that people ask when you meet them is “what do you do back home for work?”. Saying that you work as an Occupational Hygienist always results in a few blank looks. You have to be prepared with an accompanying spiel“it involves making sure aspects of people’s work (like noise, dust, vibration etc.) does not affect their health”. In the end it was easier to say I was a safety officer!
The best thing I’ve been asked to do was: A whole body vibration monitoring project on dozers at the mine I work. I got to spend loads of time in the pit with various operators jumping on and off dozers, learning about the different operation techniques they use and ground conditions they work on. I had a few people who were reluctant to sit on the accelerometer until I explained that to only measured vibration, it did not cause vibrations.
The worst thing I’ve been asked to do was: I can’t think of the worst, I love it all!