Each issue, HSM speaks to a member of the BOHS about the challenges and rewards of working as an Occupational Hygienist. This issue we talk to Dougie Collin, Director of Occupational Hygiene & Faculty Oil & Gas Topic Group Leader.
• How early do you rise?
Typically I am up and about by 6am but can be as early as 5am.
• What gets you out of bed in the morning?
I have a range of things that always need attention and it is the hunger to fulfil my plans for the day that drives me.
• Breakfast in bed, on the hoof or at your desk?
Most days it’s on the run, train station, airport, filling station, etc
• What do you do?
I am the director of Occupational Hygiene for a small but high end Occupational Health Consultancy group.
• Where do you work?
Mainly the UK but spend I around 20% of my working time in Europe or Africa.
• What does a typical day entail for you?
Up with the birds, coffee while laptop boots up. E-mails sent / dealt with before heading out the door to travel somewhere. Selection of travel modes is usually train or plane to allow more online work to be done.
Working day progresses with surveys, training sessions or related consultancy at a client’s location which can be onshore, offshore, on a vessel or in the middle of the Sahara as typical examples.
When away for one day, I try to travel home every night even if it’s an 8pm or even 9pm arrival home. The travel home also sees me doing more online work such as reports, risk assessments, quotations, results review, etc.
• Is there routine in your day?
Nope, definitely not.
• Do you work on your own or with other people?
Both. It depends on what resources are needed but usually there are always interactions with those that I am surveying or risk assessment or even training
• What is your favourite piece of work equipment?
Probably air quality monitors as they can be used for general air quality but also help to identify early signs of exposure controls breaking down. It’s always good to brief the site operator early.
• What would you be lost without in work?
My enthusiasm for Occupational Hygiene. Without this, I would be lost and it would then be time to retire and count sheep.
• When did you last laugh in work? What made you laugh?
Yesterday was a laughing day mainly because while surveying & risk assessing exposures you get the chance to exchange life experiences with those you are looking at. A sense of humour keeps me going.
• What is the best part of your day?
The sense of achievement when you are appreciated for the service you deliver.
• What advice would you give a person thinking of becoming an occupational hygienist?
If you are outgoing, a good communicator and have a strong will to succeed, Occupational Hygiene is for you. If you have these skills, study hard and you will succeed but stick to the sciences as these seem to be the best breeding ground.
If you do not have the personal attributes I have mentioned, think of another career. This is a bit blunt but better to find out sooner rather than later.