Month: October 2014

FLI Graduate Insights – Brandon Reese

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A total of 35 people went through the AIHA’s Future Leaders Institute FLI this past month. That’s 35 opportunities to tell the story on what it’s about, and how valuable developing those leadership “soft skills” are to an otherwise very technical profession.

Brandon Reese was one of those people. Brandon is somewhat of an honorary Australian, given that he worked in Perth servicing remote mines in WA and beyond for some time, and he has graciously offered his insights on what it was like for him:

“An important part of the work of an Occupational Hygienist is to be a leader in their own way.  This facilitates the ultimate goal of protecting worker health by having the skills and tools to influence other leaders to make the right decisions”

Attending FLI was a great opportunity to meet with a diverse group of individuals from different, industries, cultures, and backgrounds.  One might wonder how you can teach everyone to be a leader given that they are so different.  But we have one thing in common, we all work toward protecting worker health and elimination workplace illness.

People who attend FLI are more likely interested if not somewhat pre-disposed to being a leader, so it’s a great time to network and learn from other professionals who could be contributors to the profession one day.

In order to help us on our quests to be leaders, we were provided tools, concepts, and theory which we can take back to our workplaces and develop. 

The AIHA for me has been the backbone and support for my professional quest.  Because they have a learning focus, I continue to learn long after graduation. None of this is possible without the generous contribution of individuals and organization who share a common value of protecting worker health. As such a special thank you goes to the sponsors.

The Canary Prize…it could be yours!

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The Canary is a prize offered by the AIOH and sponsored by Scott Safety. It gathers ideas on the topic of, “What is Occupational Hygiene”  or “What does an Occupational Hygienist do?”  or “What can an occupational hygienist do for your workers and the company’s bottom line?”

I mean if there was ever a profession that suffered an identity crisis it would be ours! The AIOH CANARY is all about Communicating Awareness – a New Approach Representing us on YouTube. It involves creating a short video (less than 5-minutes) that helps answer these questions. The video might be entirely video footage, or it might be a cartoon, a narrated series of photographs or drawings – the possibilities are endless!

Entrants upload their video to YouTube and then promote it through social media using the hashtags #TheCanary and #Occupationalhygiene. Don’t worry if you are a social media novice, and the idea of twitter sends you into a twit, the Communications Committee at the AIOH are eager and willing to help you. Uploading a video and promoting it through social media is the easy part – they just need your submissions!

The Canary aims to raise the profile of our profession by raising awareness through social media, and on the new-look AIOH website.  If you think you have the best answer to the questions posed…and a video camera, then you could win yourself The AIOH CANARY.

The winner of The AIOH CANARY receives a generous financial support for attendance at AIOH educational programs and seminars that are run throughout 2015. The winner will be announced at the 2014 AIOH Conference by the newly elected AIOH President for 2015 and be presented with a trophy by a representative from Scott Safety.

Entries are now open for all members (Student, Associate, Provisional, Full and Fellow) and close on November 14th, 2014 (note: Deadline extended!)…so get your video cameras out and get rolling!

Further Details
Eligibility: Any financial members (eg: student, associate, full or fellow), regardless of membership grade are eligible to apply for the award. Although the video can be produced by multiple persons, the award application can only be made in one person’s name. Only one entry per video is allowed.
All entries must be the original work of the Entrants, not contain any copyrighted materials, and not contain any inappropriate content. The applicant must obtain approval from other persons photographed or filmed in the video (where used) for their permission for the video to be used on social media as explained within this document.
Although encouraged, the applicant does not need to be physically present at the 2014 AIOH Conference to receive the award.
By submitting an entry, applicants acknowledge that their submission will become the property of the AIOH and may be promoted by the AIOH on their website and other forms of social media.
Members of the judging panel are ineligible, as are members of the AIOH Council and the Awards and Sponsorship Committee.
The Application Process
Applications close November 14th, 2014. The application process involves the following steps:
Create a short video that helps to raise the profile of Occupational Hygiene. The video must not be longer than 5- minutes. Preference is given to interesting content rather than video length or professional quality. You may choose one single element of occupational hygiene to focus on, or look at its impact on businesses in Australia, or what a job as an Occupational Hygienist involves. All of these elements help raise the profile of the Profession.
Include either the Scott Safety logo or a Scott Safety product in the video.
Entrants upload their submission to YouTube. The AIOH website and the hashtags #TheCanary#Occupationalhygiene must be placed in the description section when uploading the video to YouTube.
Entrants promote the video on Twitter via tweeting a link to their YouTube video using the hashtags #TheCanary#Occupationalhygiene
Entrants email a completed copy of the application form along with the link to the YouTube video to by no later than November 14th,2014. Click here for the application form.
Good Luck!

Occupational health on contaminated sites #EcoForum

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If contaminated land or groundwater remediation gets you excited, then you shouldn’t miss attending EcoForum. It’s a broad-based environment conference, which is being held at Jupiters Casino on the Gold Coast on Wednesday through Friday this week. I have worked in this industry since I was a graduate, and it still interests me, some 15 years later! What’s even more interesting is when you start to talk about occupational health and hygiene in the remediation industry….the mind blows!

It’s a pretty unique space to be in, as typically you have somewhat of a limited view of what’s actually going on in ground below you, other than what a remedial sampling investigation has estimated. This is made even more complex when you not only have to consider protecting the health of the environment and the surrounding community while you are doing the work, but also making sure that you protect the workers involved in the process at the same time.

This year EcoForum is hosting it’s first conference session dedicated to Occupational Hygiene in the remediation industry, which shows how important it is to this sector. With speakers from 3M, Enviropacific, Thiess and Active Environmental Solutions (who are also sponsoring), it’s sure to be a great session.

Interested? You can get more info here. Hope to see you there!


Young Hygienist Snapshot: Jen Hines

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Jen started working in Environmental Science after completing a science degree, however it only took 18 months before she realised there was something called Occupational Hygiene and that it tied in the work environment and people, and so she started studying at Deakin University (Graduate Diploma of Occupational Hygiene).  10 years later Jen completed the UoW Masters (Occupational Hygiene Practice) as there were some awesome subjects and #hygienegod lecturers. Jen has worked in both the private sector and consulting, and currently has her own  consulting  business in the Illawarra, NSW (EHS Solutions). Jen is a superwoman with a family of 3 children that keep her busy and on my toes, and (so she tells me) an awesome husband that understands how dedicated she is to the profession. Here is 5-mins with Jen:

Best location I have worked: Papua New Guinea. I went to OK Tedi Mine for three weeks to conduct baseline monitoring. I had a huge range of contaminants, I worked with the most friendly people doing both day and night time monitoring, I was able to stay down in the pit while explosives were detonated and watch it up close and personal while hiding behind a landcruiser (not so safe..). It was a fantastic experience.

The best thing about my job is: Variety! There is never a dull day. One day you will be working on a monitoring programme for a large company involving hundreds of samples of different varieties, the next you will be researching and writing a proposal for a contaminant you have not previously worked with, and the next you will be giving a presentation to a room full of people on an occupational hygiene related topic.

Career Highlight: I have two of these – the first was receiving the Air-Met award and travelling to AIHce conference in Anaheim followed by a visit to CANMET in Ottawa Canada to the Mining and Mineral Science Laboratory where they were busily working on the Diesel Emissions Evaluation Program (DEEP). A visit to SKC in Pittsburgh to see how they made 226-01 charcoal tubes (amongst others) was also impressive. The second highlight was being part of a group of workers to reduce noise exposure in an underground mine. This project received a number of awards for its innovation and success, however, the most rewarding aspect of the project was that the workers instigated and made the improvements happen. They had/have complete control over the project and therefore really ‘own’ it. I provided advice and support only.

If you want to be an Occupational Hygienist, you’d better get used to: Odd hours, early starts, it NEVER being the right day for sampling because yesterday or last week was worse and really it is a conspiracy theory that you are monitoring today.. Also thinking on your feet! You can be asked about any contaminant or situation at any time, and you need to have the right response.

People normally think my job involves: Ensuring people have superior hand washing techniques and clean workplaces. To the smallest of degrees they are right, I have done plenty of lead work where this is important, but I know this is drawing a long bow, and the usual explanations of contaminants in the workplace, noise, heat etc…then follows.

The best thing I’ve been asked to do was: Work on the Diesel ChekMate® with Dr Brian Davies. Brian has been my mentor and friend for approximately 14 years and is a diesel particulate matter guru (#hygienegod). When he started talking about a device that could be used by the shop floor workers to measure elemental carbon from an engine, and this information could be used to reduce exposure to the workers, improve productivity and save money for sites, I was up for the challenge. If you want to know more about it, come to AIOH2014 in Melbourne, Nov 29 – Dec 3, and you can see it for yourself.

The worst thing I’ve been asked to do was: Sample a worksite for sewage contamination following a spill and flooding. Obviously this occurred on a Friday night, and the site needed to be ready to go again for Monday. I had the union, the regulators and the workers all very interested in the process.



AIHA Future Leaders Institute (FLI) Impressions

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I was fortunate enough to attend the FLI program this past weekend hosted by the AIHA. It brought together a great bunch of people from diverse backgrounds, roles, and cultures, but we all had one thing in common which was a drive and a passion for our profession as industrial hygienists….which therefore made it one of the best weekends of my professional career!

I will admit that if I hear the term, “group exercise” or “group assignment”, I normally go into a state of depression and frustration. But there were many group exercises as part of FLI, and they were actually pretty awesome. They seemed to centre on the fact that we all needed to know each other better and by continuously changing up the mix of who was in the group, and the number of people in the group, it became very engaging and actually pretty interesting.

The program was facilitated by Jeffrey Cufaude who was absolutely fantastic, made even more amazing with his heavy awesome accent which I adored. Jeffrey went to great lengths to help us along our “leadership journey”, and although he couldn’t promise that we’d be leaders in 30 days (must sign up for that course!), he definitely steered us on to the right path. I especially loved the “conversation cafe” which was on the morning of the last day – a great idea!

I was  inspired to take on new challenges and to engage others on that journey. I learnt how to be a better listener and how to go about a better way of doing things by having a greater appreciation of how others may view the situation at hand. I was motivated to continue to do my best to promote our profession given the many people who came up to personally thank me for getting this blog started and for offering their feedback and suggestions, and assistance in the future (thanks for the support!).

I was also in a tad state of #hygieneshock (yes, new term) as we were treated to an afternoon session with some AIHA luminaries (aka #hygienegods). After conversing with a lovely man next to me for a bit, I almost fell over when I realised it was Billy Bullock (from “Ignacio & Bullock” fame). You will probably really only know what I am talking about if you are an IH, so to put it into perspective, it’s kind of like meeting Einstein, if Einstein was clever enough to be an industrial hygienist. Yes I did ask for an autograph. Yes I had to convince him I was serious. Multiple times.

I was also very excited to find out that out of a group of around 35 people, that another Aussie was also lucky enough to be part of it. Amazingly we have both worked in the profession for a long time, know many of the same people, and have been to the same AIOH Conference many times. It was a bit sad that we both had to fly over 22-hours away to meet each other, but we got there in the end! Here is Andrew Bennett and I in front of the White House, which was part of the Washington D.C. night tour held on the second night which was amazeballs.

I personally took away a great deal from the program and am very grateful to the AIHA, the FLI Advisory Panel, and to the numerous sponsors who supported the program to make it a reality. Now one of the challenges for me is to figure out how to channel this great experience to help other hygienists along their leadership journey…so stay tuned!

Getting ready to meet some #hygienegods at #AIHAFLI

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On Sunday I’m making the treck from Pennsylvania down to Virginia for the AIHA’s Future Leaders Institute (FLI) program.

I honestly don’t know too much about it, other than if Perry Logan (#hygienegod) is involved, I know it’s going to be good. Perry presented at the AIOH Conference in Sydney last year about FLI. He spoke about leadership, and the fact that occupational hygienists need to be able to communicate and interact with a wide spectrum of people effectively.

You see, occupational hygiene is both an art and a science. You could be the best in the world at measuring and assessing exposure to a certain chemical, but if you can’t change a bad situation, or “positively influence and effect change” then, all of your good work will go to waste, and ultimately there was no point to it.

The FLI (as I understand it) focusses on individual and organisational leadership which includes things like: personality assessments (which I assume will just tell me how awesome I am, surely!); understanding different styles, building leadership foundation elements; the fundamentals of teamwork; strengthening professional organisations; leadership in technology; and creating a compelling future together.

It all sounds great to me! But apart from looking forward to being a part of FLI, I’m also secretly looking forward to sitting in a room full of occupational hygienists and not having to explain what I do for a living!


Safety Month & the Virtual Seminar Series

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Safe Work Australia Month (safety month) is on right now, if you have missed it so far! Safety month is  held around Australia throughout the month of October, and encourages people to get involved in and concentrate on safety in their workplace to reduce death, injury and disease.

This year’s theme is Work safe. Home safe which reminds us that the most important reason for making our workplace safe, is not at work at all. As part of safety month, Safe Work Australia are running the Australian Strategy Virtual Seminar Series (VSS), which is a free online event.

The VSS showcases some of the latest work health and safety thinking, developments, innovations and research and supports the vision of the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-2022–the ten year framework to encourage improvements in Australia’s workplace health and safety. The VSS is aimed at those with an interest in work health and safety and features live interactive panels and video presentations by work health and safety regulators, experts, business leaders and academics. The themes for the VSS are:

  • leadership and culture
  • responsive and effective regulation
  • agriculture and road freight transport industries, and
  • small business.

There is a great variety of free presentations with a new one coming up live each day. Just before I left for the US, Kristy and I sat down and recorded a webinar as part of the VSS with a focus on occupational noise for small business which goes live on October 27th at 2pm. Why don’t you check out the program and have a look at what interests you – check it out here: There is a lot of a) great and b) freely available information to assist you!