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A Day in the Life of Katie Dugdale

27 January 2017

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 occupational hygienist at BAE Systems, Katie Dugdale.

How early do you rise?

My alarm goes off around 6am but it can take me some time to actually move out of bed! I am definitely not a morning person.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

My golden Labrador - usually looking at me wondering when he’s going to get his morning walk.

What do you do?

The job I do covers a wide variety of different things, as I provide daily support to a network of SHE professionals across the business on Health risk issues. I also sit on a number of new facility projects and advise on occupational hygiene risk controls, which is fantastic as it means we can build in hygiene measures during the design phase of a project, giving us the opportunity to really apply the hierarchy of control.

Additionally, I run training sessions and meetings with employees from different functions on a wide range of hygiene issues, and work with PPE suppliers to ensure that where we do use PPE, it is fit for purpose. I also get involved in workplace monitoring e.g. COSHH; Noise; and HAV assessments, and work closely with groups looking at REACH and our engineering teams to consider substitution and elimination of the more hazardous substances... just to name just a few of the things I do.

Where do you work?

I work for BAE Systems in their Military Air and Information division. I am based on a manufacturing site in the North West, where we make and assemble a number of different components for fast jets.

What does a typical day entail for you?

This can vary massively from day to day, which is one of the aspects I love about my job. I have a lot of regular project meetings in my diary, usually related to the installation of new plant and equipment, or reviewing a new substance for use. Given that my role is about supporting the site, I’m required to answer queries from a wide and diverse range of stakeholders. These can be anything from issues with controls around systems; looking at alternative processes and substances; carrying out more specialist health risk assessments; or requests for training and technical advice.

What is your favourite piece of work equipment?

As hygienists we have lots of fancy pieces of kit; however you can’t beat talking to people to find out what actually goes on and how something works. Most of the time I find that no monitoring is needed; you can usually identify where the controls might be falling down just by talking to someone.

What would you be lost without in work?

My notebook and post-its. I have to write everything down to make sure I don’t forget anything. My desk always has post-its all over it.

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

I laugh most days at work. I’m lucky enough to work with a great bunch of people and we always have a giggle at something.

What is the best part of your day?

I love getting out and about on site and talking to lots of different people. It’s a key element of the job and means I get involved in so many different aspects of work here. I never have a day where I don’t get out.

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

A great first step would be to see if you can shadow a Hygienist for day or two. This would help you gain an understanding of what the job involves and allow you to get a feel for whether or not you would enjoy that type of work. Personally, I love my job and find the work really interesting. I’ve always found that if you enjoy doing something you’ll feel more motivated and willing to go that extra mile to do a good job.