#IOHA 2015 – What London taught Guest Blogger Kristy Thornton

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On Friday 24th April, I set off to London to attend the International Occupational Hygiene Association’s 10th International Scientific Conference (IOHA2015). To say I was excited would be an understatement, but after a long flight the last thing you want is to see is #hygienegod Noel Tresider in the hotel foyer looking dapper while you look dishevelled from your flight while you are waiting to check-in, but then again I was in London so I wasn’t going to complain.

The whole IOHA2015 experience was amazing. The conference was professionally run and the delegates were friendly and inviting and to top it all off the sessions were both thought-provoking and interesting both with regards to technical content and career development.

The conference started with Dr Paul Dolan from the London School of Economics talking about ‘You have no idea: the role of automatic processes in explaining and changing human behaviour.’ Paul spoke about behavioural science and influencing change and behaviour. Paul was not a hygienist but his field of expertise related to hygiene and how we can influence the behaviour of workers.

Sir David Spiegelhalter from the University of Cambridge spoke on ‘Friendly ways of communicating acute and chronic lethal risk.” He talked about ways to convey a message that will appeal to workers and keep them engaged. He suggested using “consider the offer” rather than “recommendations” among other useful tools.

Another highlight was listening to Perry Logan from 3M. Perry spoke about communication and leadership and the importance of developing these skills in the younger generation of hygienists.

All the concurrent sessions were educational, but my personal favourite was the Career Development Panel Session where Kate Cole presented along with fellow Australians (Holly Fletcher, Mitchell Thompson and Alan Rogers). The session was really great for the younger crowd, but it also gave the mature hygienists an insight into how they could support and mentor their younger colleagues.

I felt really inspired after all the sessions, but the icing on the cake for IOHA2015 was the networking opportunities and the social events. A highlight for me was a fun run which was organised for one morning of the conference. This was a great way to meet new people in a setting where everyone was relaxed and who wouldn’t get out of bed early to have the chance to chat with Perry Logan while running through Hyde Park?

I met a variety of people from all over the world at IOHA2015 who I know will add to my ‘hygiene network’ and I will be forever grateful to 3M and the BOHS for putting up the award and giving me the opportunity to attend IOHA2015. I would highly recommend any young hygienist to apply for such opportunities when they arise in your own fields and enjoy the experience in its entirety.


Photo: A few of the many amazing Australians who attended IOHA with Alex Wilson from the BOHS (Canary winner – AIOH conference 2014).

Persistence pays off for Kristy Thornton in her quest to get to London for #IOHA2015

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Attending the International Occupational Hygiene Association’s 10th International Scientific Conference in London #IOHA2015 was always a pipe dream for me. I imagined how good it would be to attend this conference, the networking opportunities, the exhibition, the seminars and the keynote speakers.

Those of you who know me, you will be well acquainted with my “competitive side.” So once I had an idea in my head of gaining sponsorship so I could attend IOHA2015, I knew I was going to give it 110%.

My quest started with numerous attempts dropping hints that I wanted to go to my boss (Kate Cole), who was already attending to present a session. But we both knew I would need to win my way to this conference. So I entered every possible award to gain sponsorship (let’s face it, I live in Australia, London’s not just around the corner). The experience of submitting applications taught me a lot and I realised more and more that I truly love what I do and I am honestly proud to be an occupational hygienist.

Now, I did get a few knock backs and I thought I wasn’t going to be able to get to IOHA2015, that was until the British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS) launched a competition, sponsored by 3M, for a young occupational hygienist to attend IOHA2015. Entries involved creating a PowerPoint presentation on the topic of ‘Getting your PPE Facts right – 5 facts and 5 myths.

I knew this was my last chance to get to #IOHA2015 so I gave this presentation 120% of my effort and crossed my fingers. The competition was tough and a lot of great entries were submitted, but I was the lucky winner of the 3M award and to be honest, I cried I was that excited to be going to #IOHA2015.

So my message to all hygienists is persistence does pay off. If you want something bad enough keep trying until it’s possible, don’t get knocked down at the first hurdle, you will be stronger if you pick yourself back up and keep at it. My IOHA journey was amazing and it was even better than I expected, but you will need to tune into my next blog to hear all about it.

My IOHA journey was amazing and it was even better than I expected, but you will need to tune into my next blog to hear all about it.

The link to my Slideshare presentation is below; feel free to view all the other entries on SlideShare as well by searching “PPE facts & Myths”.


All Young Hygienists + 3M = Opportunity to attend IOHA London 2015

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2 Days ago 3M launched a fantastic competition, offering the opportunity for a young hygienist to win a place worth USD $5000 to attend IOHA London 2015.

“Following on from the recent 3M Young Hygienist of the Year competition, we are delighted to team up with BOHS to offer another terrific opportunity for a second young professional to attend IOHA 2015”.

“This new competition for a place at IOHA 2015 will offer the lucky winner a great chance to be exposed to four stimulating days of learning from the very best in the occupational hygiene profession, as well networking with colleagues, vendors and suppliers.” –  Nicole Vars McCullough, 3M Personal Safety Division’s Global Technical Services Manager.

Young Hygienists don’t miss this opportunity!

To enter, you have to be:

  • aged 40 or under as at 31 December 2015 (AKA a Young Hygienist); and
  • a member of BOHS or any of the other IOHA member societies, in good standing.

You will receive:

  • a full conference place for IOHA 2015 London  (27th to 30th April), including a ticket for the gala dinner;
  • hotel accommodation for 4 nights; and
  • travel and subsistence costs of up to $2000, which are reclaimable.

NOTE: If you have are already registered to attend IOHA2015, you can still enter (as long as you meet the criteria of course) – if you win, your registration fee will be reimbursed!

The business end of the competition.

By the 24th March 2015 applicants need to:

  • create a Powerpoint presentation on the following topic: ‘Getting your PPE Facts right – 5 facts and 5 myths’
  • upload the presentation to www.slideshare.net/ and promote this via Twitter, tagging @bohsworld and using the hashtags #IOHA2015 #3Mcompetition

Myth or Fact

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!


Thank you #UOW and #3M

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Back in 2010, I met a very special occupational hygienist. She was (and still is!) really up-beat and energetic – but the thing that stuck out for me, was how she was able to pretty much solve any technical scenario on foot, without having to go back to the office and spend days or weeks looking it up. This got me intrigued and when I asked her how she did this, she just said that she had just finished studying at Uni – and spent the past year listening to #hygienegods and now all that magical information was permanently implanted in her brain.

I asked her what course/ where etc and then quickly concluded that there was probably no way that I could ever do a Master’s degree living 4 hours away with a young family in tow. She saw this as no obstacle and encouraged me (repeatedly!) to apply.

So one night, glass of wine in hand, I got on the University of Wollongong website and I applied. I nearly fell over when I got accepted, and I remember that feeling of “OMG what have I done!”

I reminisce driving down for my first ever subject. It was so refreshing to use a part of my brain that I think lay dormant for a while there, and I was instantly hooked. Going back to Uni after 10 years was a bit different to how I remember it when I was younger. I revelled spending time in the library (no screaming children!) and I never actually went into the Uni bar, which was quite the change from how I remember being an undergrad science student!!

Two years flew by, and I ended up graduating last year, largely in part to having the world’s most patient husband, a very supportive employer, and a baby that didn’t mind being fed whilst I typed my thesis on my computer late at night.

Last night, I drove down to Wollongong one more time, although this time with hubby in tow, as I was honoured to receive a very special award. Somehow, amongst all the juggling of family life, I managed to top the entire Occupational Health and Safety and Occupational Hygiene programme. Whilst my brother may argue that it was a “slow year”, I’m still chuffed!

A great deal of thanks goes to the UOW for putting on a fantastic and rewarding programme, with a very special thank you to Jane Whitelaw (Head of the OHP Academic Programme) and to 3M for their support for the award. Being on the other side of the degree reinforces how lucky I was to have met an enthusiastic occupational hygienist who persuaded me to do it in the first place. Luckily for me, Holly Fletcher is also now a great friend! In return I have been doing my best at encouraging others to go back to Uni and study it also…so far I am 2 from 2.

So what about you? Have you always had an interest in science? Why don’t you apply for the next intake for the course at the University of Wollongong? The course may have changed in name, but the content is what’s important – why don’t you consider applying for the Master of Work Health & Safety over a glass of wine tonight?

Just before we left the UOW, I couldn’t resist taking the hubby to the Uni bar for the very first time. We indulged in a Corona and fish and chips…so I now feel like my University experience is truly complete.