A ‘day in the life’ of Occupational Hygiene graduate Zara McBean
01 March 2021 | 4 min read
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We have previously interviewed other members of our occupational hygiene team, this time we’ve reached out to Matt Bates, Technical Director, to find out more about his role within the Hygiene team, and some of the daily challenges they face.
I started with RPS back in 2003 in our asbestos division as a graduate, I wanted a role that challenged me, with diverse problems to solve. In 2007, I had the opportunity to move into occupational hygiene, the main reason for moving was that it was an opportunity to increase my skillset and experience a wider variety of clients with more variability in my day to day works.
When I moved into the occupational hygiene team, I went from a senior consultant into operational management of both the asbestos and occupational hygiene businesses. Then about three years ago I had the opportunity to become a Technical Director - a role that is extremely varied with multiple responsibilities, but one that draws on all my experience at RPS!
My role has three aspects to it: technical, commercial, and operational. I have done the technical and operational facets of the job for quite a while and it felt like the logical progression to move into a commercial facing role. I took on this responsibility about 3 years ago.
A lot of my time is spent managing our team of consultants. I plan the logistics of their projects, review the standard of reports while ensuring I respond to any issues that sometimes happen on site - this is an important element of the job as the consultants are often alone working so they need to feel supported.
Then there is the commercial element with client meetings, site visits (although many of these are conducted remotely now after COVID), creating proposals, organising team and business strategy meetings. I will also attend client’s sites and complete work myself, whether it is to help cover for unforeseen absences or when it’s a client I have worked with a lot in the past and have a good relationship with. I don’t do as much of that now, but I do it from time to time, which I enjoy.
I have been quite lucky in my time as I’ve not only done lots of interesting work, but I have also travelled. I have also travelled to Holland and Germany for clients. One of the more interesting projects was completing a workplace noise survey for the RAF which involved riding in a Chinook helicopter whilst completing the readings!
It’s not all glamorous though and I have been to many less-glamorous sites too over the years, but I’ll take the good with the not too good.
I think we invest well in people. Quite a few of our colleagues joined the business as graduates and work their way up thanks to courses and qualifications that the company put them on. The same long-standing colleagues have worked with numerous clients, who seem to like the fact that, quite often, it’s the same consultant who completes their repeat monitoring. They get to know the site well and can make informed recommendations in the reports we issue. It would seem people buy people and so building the relationships out on the ground is vital for the clients to trust us and this is filtered down through the company by ensuring colleagues feel valued and supported.
One of the benefits of working with RPS, for our clients, is we also have an in-house Occupational Health team who we work closely with to support our clients, our services complement each other really well.
One of the benefits of working with RPS, for our clients, is we also have an in-house Occupational Health team who we work closely with to support our clients, our services compliment each other, Occupational Hygiene will provide the investigations in to the cause of ill health in the workplace and provide solutions to ensure it’s a safe working environment for your employees and Occupational Health will focus on the effects of ill health and helping to ensure staff can be fit for work.
If a workplace noise survey demonstrates that colleagues require audiometric testing, then our Occupational Hygiene team can share important data and information with our Occupational Health team prior to the medicals being carried out. The same can be said of other services such as measuring exposure levels in the atmosphere and lung function testing, as can hand arm vibration monitoring on power tools prior to HAVS medicals so we already have an idea of which departments might be a higher priority.
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