young hygienist snapshot

Young Hygiene Graduate Snapshot: Julie Toseski

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Young Hygiene Graduate Snapshot_4

I am excited to introduce Julie Toseski, our first Young Hygiene Graduate SNAPSHOT participant!!

Julie is a passionate OHS practitioner who has worked in the Private Forestry Industry for the past 9 years.  Lucky for us, Julie fell in love with OH in 2012, enrolled at the University of Wollongong (UOW) and in December 2014 graduated with a Master of Science (Occupational Hygiene Practice), one of the highlights of her life!

Julie’s infectious energy for life, love of a challenge and an eagerness to learn and grow within the OH profession has recently paid off as she has secured an internship with NIOSH, based at their Cincinnati office this coming June and July (Julie = happy face; Me = jealous face).

Julie reports her long-term dream is to someday develop and grow further within the OH research field.   Did I mention Julie is now completing a Master of Public Health (Hons) at Griffith University in Queensland!!!

5 mins with Julie:

 1. I chose to pursue a career in OH because: I actually stumbled on the field when I was asked to compile an Asbestos Management Plan and Register for the company I worked for. The more I researched what OH was all about, the more I fell in love with it and the diversity it offered. I was awarded a high commendation award from WorkCover NSW at the 2012 Safe Work Awards for my efforts and knew right then that OH was my calling….protecting and promoting worker health and safety and the community at large, and making a difference, however small it was.

2. My dream hygiene job is:  Working alongside fantastic hygienists who are just as passionate, enthusiastic and driven as I am with a vision to influence, change and improve the health and well being of workers from all levels and vast backgrounds.

3. The hardest subject matter I had to learn was:  Measurement of Hazardous Substances was my first every unit and after the week intensive at UOW I remember feeling a little overwhelmed and second-guessing my career choice! (this and the fact that Hendo (John Henderson) scared the hell out of me! :o))) As the weeks progressed, and I completed unit after unit, I gained more confidence in what I could offer. I never lost sight of what needed to be done and what I needed to do to achieve my goals. ‘Never give up’ is my motto…taking a risk and challenging your comfort zone can eventuate the most memorable and life changing experiences :o)

4. My hygiene god is: As I’m predominantly new to the OH field, I would have to say that I have a sphere of hygiene gods that have influenced my growth on this journey thus far.  These predominantly include Jane Whitelaw, John (Hendo) Henderson, Frank Hearl, Alan Rogers, Linda Anthorpe, Tim White and Ross Di Corletto to name a few.

5. My advice to anyone thinking about pursuing studying occupational hygiene is: Go for it…you will never look back. The learning opportunities are vast and rewarding. A keen desire to learn, develop and grow with ever-changing environments of the workplace, evolving sciences and technologies is a must though. OH is soo infectious…once you’re hooked, your hooked for life…nothing else compares :o). Good luck on your journey!


Young Hygienist Snapshot: Jane Whitelaw

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Jane Whitelaw is a true Australian Hygiene God and current coordinator of the Master of Work Health and Safety program at the University of Wollongong……………..among other things!

Those of us who have been fortunate enough to have worked with, or be taught and mentored by Jane will testify to her energetic and relentless action to promote the education and development of hygienists, not just in Australia, but globally.  Speaking from my own personal experience I have no doubt Jane has significantly influenced the development and shaped the careers of countless hygienists and safety professionals, with many more yet to come.   And yes, I do consider myself to be one of the lucky ones!

So here’s 5 mins with Jane:

Best location I have worked: My first job as an 18yr old chemistry trainee was at an aluminium smelter in the middle of the Hunter Valley Vineyards. Part of my job was monthly environmental sampling where we’d pick the grape leaves to analyse for fluoride – at the same time picking up a few bottles of grape juice for later!

The best thing about my job is: Being a positive influence of peoples health…a small intervention today can reap lifelong reward as far as health goes.

Career Highlight: Achieving CIH at the age of 29 (in the days when there were no cheat sheets for the calculations) and still being considered a young (at heart) hygienist!

If you want to be an Occupational Hygienist, you’d better get used to: Thinking on your feet and using all five of your senses.  As my Mum would say “God gave you two ears and one mouth – listen twice as much as you speak” I’m still working on that one!!!

People normally think my job involves: Health and Safety of some sort. I’ve had 30 yrs to get an answer ready for when I’m asked.

The best thing I’ve been asked to do was: Join Brian Davies and the team at the University of Wollongong. I learn something new every day and it’s a great environment to work in. The most fulfilling part is sharing my passion with and sowing into the lives of the next generation of Occupational Hygienists across the world.

The worst thing I’ve been asked to do was: For many years I analysed about 500 urinary fluorides/yr  for smelter workers who weren’t always the most hydrated workforce I’ve seen….wish I had that data to write up now!

Jane Whitelaw

Young Hygienist Snapshot: Kristie Davies

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Kristie is one of the first graduates of the UOW’s Masters of Science Occupational Hygiene Program, and currently works as an energetic Workplace Health and Safety Coordinator at a Peabody Energy underground coal mine in NSW, Australia.

5 mins with Kristie:

Best location I have worked:  That’s a hard one. I have been lucky enough to work on various remediation projects and a number of mine sites, always learning and improving skills at each role.

An interesting asbestos remediation project that always sticks in my mind was located in Batam, Indonesia. Instructions were to fly to Singapore, then ferry across to Batam. Upon arrival in Batam, I had to pay for my visa (US dollars), and I would be collected by a site representative. Simple enough I hear you say and I thought so too.

All was going smoothly until Indonesian border security starts questioning me. Unfortunately not being able to speak the native tongue; and watching your Australian passport being waved about and start walking away, can make you feel very nervous. Luckily for me the site representative had arrived and was able to sort everything out. (Heart back in chest, breathe!).

The best thing about my job is:  There is never a dull moment. Locations and type of work can vary which always keeps my hygiene mind in overdrive, and makes work very interesting. Also meeting other hygienists and health professionals at different locations is a bonus.

Career Highlight: Being able to travel and work and see some amazing locations. And always surviving, after constantly being thrown in the deep end!  I have met some wonderful hygienist along the way (You know who you are!) who are always there for support and assistance.  It’s a privilege to know some of the #hygienegods, in particular studying under the fabulous guidance of Brian Davies, Jane Whitelaw and John Henderson.

If you want to be an Occupational Hygienist, you’d better get used to: Being flexible and adaptable. Things don’t always go to plan!

People normally think my job involves: Ensuring everything is hygienically clean; from lunch rooms to bathrooms; including personal hygiene (ensuring you can wash your hands correctly).

The best thing I’ve been asked to do was: Join the UOW Occupational Hygiene program by Brian Davies at a career fair day.  Originally I was studying to be a dietitian. I am passionate about maintaining good health, and I enjoy sharing this knowledge to help others achieve this, whether it is at work or socially.

The worst thing I’ve been asked to do was: Nothing really comes to mind; I try to view everything as a learning experience. One such experience was my first trip in an underground coal mine, busting for the toilet, where I was taken and to this day I describe as a box trailer with a toilet seat attached to one end, and no brattice anywhere. My guide was my look out at one cut through – and those of you who have been underground can imagine being female and trying to use a toilet!

Kristie Davies

Young Hygienist Snapshot: Luke Di Corleto

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Lucky for us Luke Di Corleto chose to follow in his dads footsteps and became an #occupationalhygienist

Luke is a fellow MSc OHP graduate of the UOW and freely admits to really enjoying the university lifestyle.  I hope so given that he has just clocked up his 8th year of tertiary education participating in a Masters of Occupational Health and Safety Science at the University of Queensland #UQ (his 2nd postgraduate degree………and counting). Luke reports he was lucky enough to score his first real OHS related job recently during the university holidays and was able to put his occupational hygiene knowledge and skills to good use at Rio Tinto’s Exploration division, as part of their vacation employment programme.  Luke reports he is more keen now than ever to put his many years of education to good use……… along with starting the long road of paying off his sizeable HECS debt!

So here is 5-mins with Luke:

Best location I have worked: The Rio Tinto main office in Brisbane. Thrilling, I know but it is a nice building with a nice view. That and I am about 30 seconds away from the cafe. He is Italian after all!

The best thing about my job is: Rubbing shoulders with people who have an enormous amount of experience in the field of hygiene, I feel really fortunate to be working with such people. Also the view of the river from the 17th floor is quite nice.

Career Highlight: I need to have a career before I can reminisce about its highlights.

If you want to be an Occupational Hygienist, you’d better get used to: Time consuming, soul crushing data entry. Someone has to do it and you can be sure it’s the kind of job that gets passed down to newbies.

People normally think my job involves: Either food inspection or cleaning toilets if they are trying to be funny. I try to avoid saying hygienist to people who don’t have much experience with the mining industry, generally opting for just health and safety.

The best thing I’ve been asked to do was: Sit around in a haul truck for a few hours to get vibration results I ultimately didn’t use. It strikes me as a job that would be tiresome if you had to do it for 12 hours a day but it’s still pretty cool the first time you go up.

The worst thing I’ve been asked to do was: Do whole body vibration #WBV monitoring for stemming and capping trucks. A 2 hour job turned into an 8 hour job because I wasn’t permitted to drive on-site and my ride back from the pit went home and left me out there. Fortunately the guys doing the stemming were kind enough to give me a ride back to my car.


2013 UoW MSc OHP Graduate

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!!


Young Hygienist Snapshot: Brett Young

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Brett is a Certified Occupational Hygienist (COH) working for INPEX Australia as the Senior Health and Hygiene Advisor on the Ichthys LNG Project. Based in Perth, Western Australia he is developing INPEX’s health and hygiene management system, SAP IH, hygiene training requirements and service contracts in preparation for operations, which is expected to commence in late 2016.

Prior to joining INPEX in April 2012, Brett worked for Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) for eight years where he was a Senior Industrial Hygienist. PDO is the main oil and gas exploration and production provider in Oman with a concession area over 100,000 km2. His job involved working extensively in the interior of Oman, in remote areas, with a multicultural 40000 plus workforce. He was recruited by PDO after meeting an Omani hygienist at the BOHS Conference in the UK. This chance meeting came about after he won the Draeger Young Hygienist of the Year Award in 2002, which supported his attendance to the conference. He has certainly made the most of winning this and other AIOH awards.

Prior to working in Oman, Brett worked for seven years with the Queensland and Northern Territory Workplace Health and Safety Divisions as an occupational hygiene advisor / Inspector and in his distant, distant past he was a hygiene technician performing asbestos removal and clearance work in all parts of Victoria.

All I can say is…wow! Here is 5-mins with Brett:

Best location I have worked: Having lived and worked now in four Australian States/Territories, I have to admit that I have a soft spot for Brisbane, but undoubtedly the best location I have worked was the eight years spent living, working and playing in the PDO concession area and deserts of Oman.

The best thing about my job is: Promoting and protecting the health and wellbeing of my colleagues, friends and contractors at work.

Career Highlight(s): 1. Winning the Draeger Young Hygienist Award, which introduced me to the World. 2. Being an organising member of the first Occupational Health Conference held in the Middle East (Oman) in 2006 and co-authoring a workshop on Occupational Hygiene with Dr. Brian Davies. This introduced occupational hygiene to the greater Middle East 3. Mentoring three young Omani’s to become Occupational Hygienists, one of whom is the first female Omani Occupational Hygienist who recently completed her Masters of OH through the University of Wollongong. Hopefully this will translate to a legacy for future Omani hygienists.

If you want to be an effective Occupational Hygienist, you’d better get used to: Explaining health and hygiene to management in terms of return on investment, how implementing health and hygiene systems reduces indirect costs, improves productivity and is most effective when implemented in the design phase of projects.

People normally think my job involves: Everything to do with health risks, wellbeing, public health, hygiene, biting insects, air pollution, hazardous process contaminants……on Mondays. Everything else Tuesday to Friday

The best thing I’ve been asked to do was: Plan, develop and execute the first NORM (naturally occurring radioactive material) Decontamination Facility in Bahja, Oman which was responsible for decontaminating tonnes of NORM contaminated sub-surface and surface equipment which could be safely refurbished and reused or scrapped.

The worst thing I’ve been asked to do was: I’ve been very lucky with my career, however I didn’t enjoy issuing infringement notices or prosecuting employers when working as an inspector. I also didn’t appreciate a cold decontamination shower in the early hours of a Melbourne winter following asbestos clearance work, but we all had to start somewhere.

Brett Mt Crossing

Young Hygienist Snapshot: Letty Wong [INTERNATIONAL EDITION!]

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Letty is a fellow FLI graduate and an occupational hygienist (CIH/ROH) practicing in Toronto, Canada (eh?).  She is an OH consultant working for BluMetric Environmental Inc., a Canadian consulting firm, and leading the Toronto OHS group. Professionally, she has been an OHS consultant pretty much all of  career (with two short stints as an occupational hygienist in a hospital). In the past, she has served on several committees, including the OH learning scholarship committee, and a local construction committee to advise on lead abatement procedures. Last year, she was a mentor for an incoming hygiene student at her alma mater, the University of Toronto. She is also currently on the Board of Directors at her local OH organization, the Occupational Hygiene Association of Ontario (OHAO).

Here is 5-mins with Letty:

Best location I have worked: As a consultant, I get to see lots of different workplaces, and learn about different processes! Some of the highlights include sampling at a scented candle factory, auditing at an aerospace facility, a behind-the-scenes look at a popular global retail chain, indoor air quality at a TV news studio, and a visit to a noodle factory!

The best thing about my job is: The diversity of work! I love being a consultant and I love going to new workplaces and learning about what they do. I love meeting workers, and talking to them about worker health and safety. I have never once been bored at my job.

Career Highlight: The highlight so far, is being accepted into, and participating in AIHA’s Future Leaders Institute (FLI). It was such an amazing, and inspirational experience, to connect with other hygienists who were also passionate about the profession, and about bringing awareness to the greater community.

If you want to be an Occupational Hygienist, you’d better get used to: Explaining your profession over and over again!! Not many people understand what I do… it is all part of the on-going education and awareness 🙂

People normally think my job involves: Teeth

The best thing I’ve been asked to do was: I love most of the things I get to do at my job, but one of the best things I have done is to be able to speak at my high school about my profession. I love bringing awareness about the profession to young people. I didn’t hear about the profession until I was in fourth year university. I really want to change that, to educate more young people going into university about the profession. They might be a future hygienist! Or even if they don’t choose hygiene, at least they are in a better place to effect H&S cultural change in the workplace.

The worst thing I’ve been asked to do was: Once, we were contracted to figure out how to get rid of a “scum” like material on surgical tools. For days, I had to scrub out the instruments with various chemical concoctions, wearing only gloves. It was boring, tedious and really just glorified dishwashing, and I’m pretty sure I got repetitive strain injury from it. Another time, we were asked to help battle legionella in a nursing home. Part of the work involved turning on all of the hot water faucets. I spent a lot of over night shifts turning on and off water taps, while getting harassed by old men and old ladies with no teeth, in their dressing gown, asking us what we were doing. Although I have highlighted these experiences as the “worst” – looking back, I have to say I did learn from both experiences. I wouldn’t necessarily do them again – but it is always nice to have war stories to tell.

Letty Wong