Amanda is a fellow FLI graduate who works at the 3M Center in St. Paul, Minnesota in Lab Safety as an Industrial Hygiene Specialist. Amanda has an undergraduate degree in biology and a Masters in industrial hygiene from the University of Minnesota. Whilst her main focus is industrial hygiene, she has also had the opportunity to branch into safety, supervision of interns, hiring full-time EHS professionals, and operational leadership with lab management. This year she started working with 3M’s international R&D facilities more, including a two week trip to Shanghai for auditing and best practice sharing….pretty awesome! Here is 5-mins with Amanda:
Best location I have worked: I have two answers for this question. The best location I have worked outside of the EHS field is on a research sailing vessel. I spent a summer session in Woods Hole, Massachusetts doing marine research on the SSV Westward. There’s nothing like being in a lab on the open sea collecting and analyzing samples at all hours of the day or night. In addition to doing research, we also took turns working in shifts in the kitchen and managing the actual navigation of the ship. In my work as a hygienist, the research labs are a very engaging place to work. Our campus has over 40 businesses, ranging from health care to tape to electronics. In both examples, teamwork was the vital key to successful results.
The best thing about my job is: The opportunities for learning. I’ve provided EHS support to a research and development organization for 8 years. With over 6000 scientists on site, there is always something new and exciting taking place. I know I have made a connection when people contact me to see a new experiment or pilot scale run, even if they don’t have an EHS question.
Career Highlight: 3M has a set of EHS Achievement Awards that are awarded on an annual basis. In 2009, a team that I participated on won one of these corporate awards for the creation of a risk identification and management database customized to our site’s needs. It was great to have our peers nominate and select us for this award. We’ve been using the system for 5 years now, and have had the opportunity to share it within the company at other sites around the world.
If you want to be an Occupational Hygienist, you’d better get used to: Change. Even if you stay within the same company, the work is always changing as companies expand and perhaps contract. Local and federal regulations have been changing recently (GHS, REACH, HazCom2012), in addition to any internal guidelines your workplace may have in effect. Other areas of change include demographics of our workers and fellow EHS professionals, and advances in monitoring equipment and mobile capability.
People normally think my job involves: One of two things 1) dentistry of some sort 2) a vague understanding of federal EHS compliance. This is a great reason to have a personal elevator speech ready to explain what we do in a short, meaningful manner. If I am asked about my career, I tailor my response to reflect what that would look like in that person’s workplace.