Tag Archives: UW EH&S

Sandy J.: About My EHS Internship Project

About My EHS Internship Project

By Sandy J.

Sandy in the field with a direct-reading instrument during formaldehyde exposure monitoring

During my internship at the UW Environmental Health and Safety, I organized and analyzed the  database for formaldehyde exposure monitoring on UW campus and affiliated hospitals. I also  was assigned to construct an internal Formaldehyde Exposure Monitoring Plan. First, I read all of the the paper and electronic formaldehyde exposure monitoring reports from 1994 to present. There were about 700 entries! Then I created a spreadsheet that organizes this information under important variables, which could help future users understand and utilize it as a tool. I brainstormed a lot about what the important determinants are in terms of formaldehyde exposure. During my upcoming presentation of this database, I plan to present significant trends in the exposure of UW employees, and what we can learn from these trends. To create the Formaldehyde Exposure Monitoring Plan, I needed a strong understanding of the potential exposure scenarios and sampling methods. Because I wanted to create a tool for the future industrial hygienists to use in their formaldehyde monitoring, I had to think about what they would like to know and what they should pay attention to that is specific to formaldehyde use at UW. I went on numerous monitoring surveys around campus with an industrial hygienist. Every field survey taught me more about working on an EHS team and of course, formaldehyde exposure. I made sure to take notes, pictures of the facilities, and engineer controls. I always asked questions before and after the surveys. I am still working on these projects. The projects consist of a great amount of information that need careful presentation and organization, and I will make them awesome by revising many times and asking for peer review. As I am finishing up my internship and these projects, I am supported by the industrial hygienists in the department, my supervisors, and my coworkers who are more than willing to help. My deliverables will not only reflect my learning from this experience but all of the work and support that the Environmental Health and Safety team provides.

Sandy J.: How I Got My EHS Internship

How I Got My EHS Internship

By Sandy J.

Sandy in front of her office at UW EHS

After taking the ENV H 453 Industrial Hygiene course, I developed a great curiosity for more education about safety and prevention in the work environment. I just liked the idea of protecting people that work in their space up to 8 hours a day every day. Due to the hard work of environmental health and safety specialists, my family and friends are safe and happy in their workplaces. I have a hard science background with double majors in Biochemistry and Environmental Health, so I also wanted to find a niche that includes both biological or chemical science, and safety and prevention. One day I decided to do some research on UW’s Environmental Health and Safety Department, which is an administrative department that serves to provide safe working environment for UW employees. I emailed the Senior Director of the department with my questions and was not even sure if I would get a response. She responded with a very welcoming message and we scheduled a time to speak on the phone a few days later. When I talked to her on the phone for about 30 minutes, I was so happy that someone was listening and understood the capacity of my curiosity and passion. She was working with her team on the exact fields I was hoping to learn about. She then referred me to the Assistant Director of the department and I scheduled to meet with her for more inspiration and guidance. My meeting with the Assistant Director of Research and Occupational Safety was more than pleasant and to my surprise it became an interview for an internship. It was one of my happiest moments in college, because I saw that if I took actions on my interests and passions, I could find opportunities for myself. Not only did I discover that something like biosafety and industrial hygiene existed, but I also gained an opportunity to be a part of the work and it truly has been a life-changing experience!

 

Tayna T.: Finding an Internship You’re Passionate About

Finding an Internship You’re Passionate About

By Tayna T.

Tayna at her desk at UW EH&S

I am interning at the UW Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) department as a compliance analyst. UW Environmental Health and Safety department is responsible for providing a safe work place on campus by identifying the hazards, evaluating the risk associated with the work environment, and developing preventative procedures and policies that are in compliance with federal and state regulations. In addition, EH&S offers safety training for UW employees and students. Besides overseeing the occupational safety program at the UW, EH&S also administers programs pertaining to environmental hygiene such as hazardous waste and recycling. My supervisor is the assistant director of the occupational health and safety unit within the EH&S department. People I work with are the industrial hygienist, the accident prevention hygienist, fleet manager, and more.

I will develop a safety program for golf carts and low speed vehicles (LSV) by benchmarking data, visiting different departments at UW, and writing a white paper. I will have to research and summarize the golf cart safety programs of universities across the nation, focusing on elements such as program ownership, training procedures, and maintenance. By learning how programs at other universities operate, I hope to develop a good program that includes all successful aspects of a golf cart safety program. I will also visit several departments on campus to collect data about the golf carts and LSV. The data will help me assess the current issues at the UW and address the problems pertinent to the UW in my white paper.

I’m not familiar with regulations regarding golf carts and LSV. Therefore, I’m excited about learning how to amalgamate what I read in those regulatory documents and the data I collect into a paper–one that can convince the stakeholders to adopt the program. The thing that I’m thrilled about is also the thing makes me nervous. I have never worked at an occupational health and safety department before, let alone written any important document. In addition, I have only taken two environmental health classes in my major, and none of the two classes emphasizes employee safety.

I saw a job opening one day on a UW work study website while I was browsing to look for new job openings, since my current one had ended. Then I saw that the UW EH&S department was looking for a compliance analyst intern to work on developing a golf cart and LSV safety program. As an environmental health and occupational safety major, I could not ignore this opportunity. I applied but did not think that I would get hired because I had no experience working in an occupational safety field. All I had was my passion and fourteen plus years of education, along with communication skills I am not one hundred percent confident of. Putting aside my pessimism, I applied. The person whom I contacted, my future supervisor, asked me to come I for an interview. I was hired afterward!

At the UW EH&S, each division has its own corner. For instance, the occupational health and safety division that I work at is located at a corner with four offices and a meeting room. The structure of the floor conveniently organizes the composition of the department as a whole. It feels as though I have my own group of people within the department on whom I can rely. Everyone I met was friendly and helpful. For example, if my co-workers find useful information on golf cart and LSV regulations or information that related to the project I am working on, they inform me. My supervisor also helps me tremendously by showing me how to find and use the correct information. More importantly, she guides me through my first time working as a compliance analyst intern.