Young Hygienist Snapshot: Kate Cole

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This will be the last Young Hygienist Snapshot for 2014. I have been officially replaced as the “Young Hygienist” now as the winner of the 2014 Draeger Young Hygienist Award was announced at the AIOH Conference in early December – Congratulations goes to Mitch Thompson!!!

This doesn’t mean that this blog is over, it just means that it’s time for a change and a bit of a chance to mix things up a bit. I have been incredibly fortunate to have a lot of support from other young hygienists who have graciously let me profile them over the past year, so now, before all is revealed as to what exciting plans there are in place for this space next year, I figured that I should at least take 5-minutes and answer the questions I made up myself.

So here is 5-mins with me!

Best location I have worked: The Platypus Remediation Project in Neutral Bay, Sydney. It was the best as it was the most challenging environment to work in given that there were multiple occupational hazards including benzene, PAHs, heavy metals, hydrogen cyanide, noise and thermal heat stress to name a few. It was also the best as I got to work closely with my fantastic team including Scott and Kristy which made each day a joy to come to work!

The best thing about my job is: I work for a great company that supports me, I am lucky to work with a great team of people who get excited about the same nerdy things that I do, and I have as many complex and challenging projects to work on as I have the time. It’s hard to pick one thing, so I’d have to say that my job is the best thing about my job!

Career Highlight: This is not an easy question I realise! I have been incredibly fortunate to win many awards, but I honestly think that my career highlight was gaining my Certification as a COH….or more the relief that I didn’t have to sit the exam again!

If you want to be an Occupational Hygienist, you’d better get used to: Putting the health of the workforce in the front of your mind at all times. There are many competing pressures in business (time, cost etc), but protecting the health of the workforce is the end goal. There is a balance in there of being too cautious and counter-productive and being too optimistic and having issues. It’s a fine line sometimes, so I’d say that if you decide to be an Occupational Hygienist that you should understand you will never stop needing to learn, spend time reading journal articles, listening to others’ experiences, attending conferences to hear the latest research etc. This isn’t a bad thing though!

People normally think my job involves: Cleaning teeth or handing out dust masks. As I have 3 kids, I spend a lot of time actually cleaning teeth…and I have handed out dust masks before…so maybe they are right!

The best thing I’ve been asked to do was: Develop the occupational health and hygiene program for the $1.15 billion North West Rail Link project in Sydney. It is a fantastic project staffed with a great management team who have the health and safety of the workforce as a top priority.  It is also a technically challenging project due to the sheer scale of the project with many project sites spread over a large area, and a complex work environment (underground tunnelling).

The worst thing I’ve been asked to do was: I don’t think anyone actually asked me to do this, but somehow I ended up hand-washing over 100 full face respirators on a project site many years ago. It came as I made repeated attempts and pleas to the workers to decontaminate them after their shifts. They had gotten so bad that I feared their effectiveness would have been drastically reduced (and given where they were working they needed to be good!), so I convinced a colleague to help me wash them out one day. Afterwards I think the workers felt bad for us, and when they used them they could see & feel the difference. Thankfully  I never had to do it again!

See you in 2015!!


5 thoughts on “Young Hygienist Snapshot: Kate Cole

    ohrm said:
    December 29, 2014 at 1:54 pm


    Jane said:
    January 12, 2015 at 9:48 am

    A worthy “Young Hygienist” Kate Cole and a great ambassador for our wonderful profession 🙂
    The pressure is on Mitch!!!

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