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A Day in the Life of Neil Grace

05 September 2016

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 senior occupational hygienist at Centrica Exploration & Production, Neil Grace.

How early do you rise? 

I am normally up at around 6am on a workday, even earlier if I am working offshore. At weekends I am still up at around 7am, as I’ve always been an early bird.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

I suppose am really lucky and can say I love my job, so if it’s a workday I’m up and in the office normally before anyone else.

What do you do?

I am a senior occupational hygienist working for Centrica Exploration & Production. I support various management teams across the business, ensuring their health risks are adequately controlled.

Where do you work?

I am based at the Barrow Gas Terminals in North West England, but my role covers the UK & the Netherlands.

What does a typical day entail for you?

Back to the old cliché, there isn’t one. Even when your day is planned with: meetings, training, briefings, monitoring, report writing (Boo!) risk assessment support, investigations, audits or writing policy and procedures, it can change at the drop of a hat. That’s what makes it so interesting, as you never know who you might be meeting with or talking to from one day to the next.

What is your favourite piece of work equipment?

I could go into a long list from the 'pump jockey’s' kit bag here, but alas, to me the best bit of kit alongside your five senses is - a camera.

What would you be lost without in work?

Certainly not my phone! As I am based on a Top Tier CoMAH site, anything with a spark potential is either prohibited, or requires a PTW and a gas monitor. I think I would be lost if I couldn’t fit in a couple of lunchtime 'runs' through the week when onshore (and sessions in the gym, when offshore), as it really refocuses my day.

When did you last laugh in work? What made you laugh?

I work in a closely knit HSE team based at the Terminals, where there is a great 'craic'. We recently started a BMI check on a Friday after one of the younger members of the team announced he had been to the nurse and his BMI was 19. We all laughed as he has a bit of 'timber' on him… in fact it was his fat content that was 19% (not too bad). We now have a height chart showing he would have to be 7ft  8” to get a BMI that low…it still makes me chuckle.

What is the best part of your day?

Three answers: personally, it’s when I am either running, cycling or swimming; professionally, it’s when I am in full flow delivering a short course on manual handling or COSHH; privately, it’s when I’m spending time with my family.

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

Don’t think… just do it! As with most hygienists, I fell into this profession and have never looked back. I just wish I had found it earlier!