best job in the world

Young Hygienist Snapshot: Mark Houston [International Edition]

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Mark Houston lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico and works in the Industrial Hygiene (IH) Department at Sandia National Laboratories (#SNL).  Previously, Mark had IH internships with CSX Transportation, Marathon Petroleum Company, and Marathon Oil Company, Pipeline LLC. Outside his Industrial Hygiene role, Mark is a soccer fanatic and enjoys doing anything (almost) outdoors! 🙂

So here’s 5 mins with Mark:

1. Best location I have worked: Tough question… My top 3 (in no particular order): Jacksonville Florida, Birmingham Alabama, and Albuquerque New Mexico.  Each place has is special to me in terms of my career and was/ is a great place to live!

2. The best thing about my job is: The best thing about my current job is the environment. Everyday working at a national laboratory is completely different from the last.  I really enjoy the IH challenges that stem from an R&D environment.

3. Career Highlight: I had the opportunity to work on a confined space welding project. I was able to work with upper management and union employees to implement engineering controls to mitigate over-exposures.

4. If you want to be an Occupational Hygienist, you’d better get used to:  Being able to explain your role in the success of the company/ organization. As an IH you have to be able to justify your worth to a company. Some people view IH as an overhead cost, that provides little benefit.  Be ready to “prove your worth” every day, and help to change these people’s minds.

5. People normally think my job involves: Scrubbing very large toilets 😉

6. The best thing I’ve been asked to do was: Providing IH support following a chemical spill was a good learning experience, but it’s not the best…. I got to perform noise monitoring during explosive testing....The IH portion was okay, but watching the blast was phenomenal! 1F4A5

7. The worst thing I’ve been asked to do was: Fit testing for days on end… What has two thumbs and knows the rainbow passage by heart? … This guy.. I may even sing it in my sleep (who knows) 🙂

Mark_Pic_1 Mark_Pic_2

Instagram of the Week!

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This week’s Instagram has been brought to you by Claire Di Corleto @claire_amandah

This workplace not only has people that need protecting, it has Dalek’s too!

Young Hygienist Snapshot: Sammy Connell [International Edition]

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I was fortunate enough to meet Sammy Connell in London recently where both attended the International Occupational Hygiene Associations 2015 Conference. #IOHA2015

Sammy is a little pocket rocket and a super fun hygienist. I loved hearing about Sammy’s experience, especially the places she has worked around the world, not to mention the exciting projects! There is one thing that I know for certain about Sammy, that is she tackles life head on, never missing an opportunity.

So here is 5 mins with Sammy:

1. Best location I have worked: In terms of hygiene, my favorite was a refinery in Baton Rouge. I LOVED the people. In terms of ultimate living location, Orlando, Florida, USA or Lausanne, Switzerland.

2. The best thing about my job is: Saving lives, clearly. But the fact that we have so many opportunities within our field isn’t a moot point. We can work in a number of sectors and locations worldwide, we can see processes the general public couldn’t normally see and we have access to a network of exquisite individuals. Speaking of our network, AIHA’s Future Leaders Institute and IOHA London 2015 were among two of the most amazing experiences in my life.

3. Career Highlight: In a nerdy hygienist-sense, being able to implement an engineering control and having management buy into my rationale.

In a life sense, moving across the pond for a job I truly adore. How can it get better than that? Also, working on an EU Project, conducting research at multiple defense facilities in Europe. That covers hygiene and life…

Just to make a point [about how amazing OH can be], I’ve thought of about 40 other highlights I won’t include. Did I mention meeting Holly Fletcher and the rest of my Aussie OH soul mates?

4. If you want to be an Occupational Hygienist, you’d better get used to:  People telling you “no” or “it’s always been done this way”. It’s also slightly unnerving to continuously reassure someone that you’re essentially doing your job for his or her benefit – you understand that wearing a respirator isn’t actually fun, for example. You just have to remember why you’re there doing your job in the first place and fight for what you think is right!

5. People normally think my job involves: Cleaning teeth at someone’s workplace or keeping industrial equipment clean.

6. The best thing I’ve been asked to do was:  Work an emergency and assess a shark capture – not the same event. I almost forgot about reconstructing homemade explosive devices to sample throughout that process. 1F4A3

7. The worst thing I’ve been asked to do was: Roof inspections. We all know how hygienists feel about safety…

Sammy Connell 3


Check Sammy out working in a cleanroom at Oak Ridge National Lab during her first internship in 2010.




Sammy Sammy talking with the one and only Jimmy Perkins at #IOHA2015

Instagram of the Week!

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This week’s Instagram has been brought to you by Alden Strealy @aldenstrealy

I love this!

A great reminder of the famous Paracelsus quote The dose makes the poison” (Dosis facit venenum) (1493)

Instagram of the Week!

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This week’s instagram has been brought to you by Pete Aspinall AKA @insta_aspis

If that’s the bucket imagine how big the dragline is!

Young Hygienist Snapshot: Martin Calnin

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I met Martin Calnin on my very first day of participating in the UOW’s Masters of Science Occupational Hygiene Program.  I don’t think I need to remind Marty however I think we were lucky to survive the first week!  When I say this I am not referring to the technical content of the course, I am referring to social programme lead by the infamous #hygienegod John Henderson.

Marty has enviable occupational hygiene experience working with the Australian Air Force, Comcare, the Defence Centre for Occupational Health and Bluescope Steel and now lives in the Middle East, currently working as an Occupational Hygienist with RASGAS in Qatar.

So here is 5 mins with Marty:

1. Best location I have worked: Tough question.  I have been pretty fortunate in my career so far.  I’ve worked in the Solomon Islands and am currently working in the Middle East.  My time with Bluescope Steel was great, especially the people I worked with, however working with the Defence Centre for Occupational Health was a great opportunity. Working with the likes of Martin Jennings, Dr. Ian Gardner, Spud Murphy, Nathan Redfern, Sharann Johnson, Phil Hibbs & Co and Jeremy Trotman provided a valuable learning curve in Occupational Hygiene.

2. The best thing about my job is: Too numerous to mention. It’s challenging, diverse, provides a great opportunity to meet new people and places and it always keeps you thinking. At the end of the day however, the best thing about my job is achieving safety outcomes.  

3. Career Highlight: There’s been a few however the Masters Program at Wollongong Uni was a definite highlight.  It was a hard slog however being taught by industry experts such as Brian Davies, Noel Tresider, Marion Burgess and Alan Rogers was a real privilege.

4. If you want to be an Occupational Hygienist, you’d better get used to:  Thinking on your feet, regardless of how much planning you put into a job, things can go pear shaped pretty quickly.  You also better get used to talking, being a good communicator is essential.   

5. People normally think my job involves: Cleaning peoples teeth, cleaning toilets, bathrooms, or making sure people’s hands are clean.

6. The best thing I’ve been asked to do was:  Getting involved with the OMOH Project with the Defence Centre for Occupational Health, specifically basic workplace characterisations of Defence establishments.  Yet again, a great opportunity to apply core Occupational Hygiene skills across some very interesting workplaces, all with very diverse occupational hazards.  

Another job that has been of real interest is respiratory fit testing.  A routine job you may think, however try giving respiratory fit training to 25 Indian contract workers who speak very little english, and a trainer who’s Hindi is atrocious.  Makes for an interesting afternoon, full of many hand gestures, blank looks and laughter.

7. The worst thing I’ve been asked to do was: I was called at the office one afternoon and told that someone had vomited on an aircraft.  The caller stated that as there was a risk for disease transmission, therefore I should pop down and clean it up.  I don’t recall ever getting around to that job.

Martin Calnin

Marty was luck enough to have some OH professionals determine his noise exposure when using a leaf blower