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A day in the life of Chris Beach

16 February 2015

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 Chris Beach, chartered occupational hygienest.

How early do you rise?

Getting up early has never been a problem for me, I am definitely a lark rather than an owl. I am usually up and about by 6:00am. This has stood me in good stead for work at both Ford Motor Company and latterly as a consultant. If you are supposed to be monitoring the exposure of the workers you need to be there before they start work so that you can set up equipment and be ready to start.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?

Knowing what I have planned for the day ahead. Preparation is most important, I am not clever enough to 'wing-it'. It always shows and it is very unprofessional.

What do you do?

I am a chartered occupational hygienist and run my own limited company.

Where do you work?

At the moment I am providing maternity cover at London Underground.

What does a typical day entail for you?

I work in a team of specialists who provide advice to the operational side of London Underground. My role is occupational hygiene and my closest colleague provides human factors advice so there is quite a bit of overlap between us. The bulk of my work is noise or dust problems mixed in with lighting, ventilation, microbiological and other topics.

What is your favourite piece of work equipment?

As managing director/accountant/consultant/typist of my own limited company it is not cost effective to own any expensive sampling equipment. There are some very good companies that hire out equipment on a daily or weekly basis. What is essential is a good computer system with access to the internet.

What would you be lost without in work?
Same as above - access to the internet and email connection to occupational hygiene colleagues around the world.

When did you last laugh in work? What made you laugh?
I am sure there is something to laugh about every single day. It usually comes from what seems a stupid question, but if your workforce has asked it they must be worried about it so replying, "Don’t be stupid,” does not answer their question, calm their concern or win you any credibility.

What is the best part of your day?
Answering a concern and reassuring the workforce, never forget they earn your salary for the company.

What advice would you give a person thinking of becoming an occupational hygienist?

Join the British Occupational Hygiene Society. You will be joining a group of like minded people from around the world who are very generous with their advice and time. Chatting with them (I am told this is networking) online or at conferences it is amazing the number of times you realise they have already solved the problem you are stuck on, or can suggest some lateral thinking approach.