Opportunity abounds at EnviroScience

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Andres Ortega Case Study

Being part of a rapidly growing industry combining science, health and the environment has seen Andrés Ortega become increasingly fascinated with Occupational Hygiene and the important role it plays in safeguarding human health from hazardous materials.

Heading up the Orange office for regionally-based environmental consultancy firm, EnviroScience Solutions, Andrés – who has around 15 years’ experience in hazardous materials and environmental management – says Occupational Hygiene is an area that is “growing quickly” in Australia.

“It’s like a new subject out there,” he says.

Explaining Occupational Hygiene as “applying science to look after the health of the workers in terms of their workplace”, Andrés says it is all about “making sure the workplace of any worker is safe”.

“If there are any levels of contamination, in terms of hazards, we find ways to assess those hazards to see if it will impact the health of the worker.

“For example, if we have a worker who is exposed to noise, we need to assess if that noise is going to create any permanent damage to their health.”

Andrés says this sees his work cover hazards from noise to vibration, asbestos and silica, to dust and gas

“It is a very wide area of work,” he says.

“Part of our work is to use science to assess the hazard the worker has been exposed to, use legislation to find out if the business is following the correct procedures, so we can compare what we measure on the field, with what the correct standards are.

“We can then find out if everything is done correctly and if the workers have been exposed to something higher than they should be. After that, we then put procedures and controls in place to ensure there are no incidences and their health stays properly looked after.”

Wanting to combine his many years’ experience with a greater understanding of the “science behind it”, Andrés is currently studying a Masters in Occupational Hygiene at the University of Wollongong.

“It’s all about combining my experience and education together,” he says.

“Obviously I have quite a few years of experience in the field, 12 to 15 years of experience in environment and more in the occupational side of things, but it is that need to have that knowledge which has pushed me back to Uni.

“I need to understand this subject a little bit more, so the Masters has been that desire that I want.”

Andrés, who has a Bio-Agricultural Engineering degree from Texas A&M University in the United States, says he originally got into environmental consultancy by studying a Masters in Soil Science from the University of Sydney – which saw him start work in a laboratory.

“It wasn’t easy to jump into consultancy straight away, so I worked in a laboratory. While you would think a chemist would be more suitable for laboratory if you actually visit a laboratory, you will find people from all kinds of science trades there, so that is kind of a starting point.

“You learn sampling, being in the field, how to communicate with clients, which all translates to consultancy. So, from there I began my career.”

Working initially for some of the “global environmental consultancy companies in Sydney”, Andrés then moved to Orange with his young family in pursuit of a “better, and quieter lifestyle”.

However, when his job saw him continue to travel to the “big cities for projects”, Andrés reached out to regionally based EnviroScience Solutions, headquartered in nearby Dubbo

Saying he “got a call back straight away and that’s how they welcomed me in”, Andrés says his work is now closer to home.

“Suddenly with EnviroScience I found I didn’t have to be travelling all over to the other big cities to do the work that I wanted, when I could be with a consultancy that focuses on the problems here in regional areas.”

Remaining in Orange, Andrés says in the three years he has been with the business, it has grown exponentially to the point where “I was not able to handle all the projects on my own”.

Recently joined by a well-established professional in Luke Niven, they cover everywhere from Bathurst to Lithgow, Parkes and Mudgee, an area where there is a prevalence of Naturally Occurring Asbestos (NOA) which has seen many of their projects requiring specialisation in that area.

With plans afoot to grow the office further, Andrés says he would like to encourage other city-based environmental consultants as well as, those already out in the regions to explore the myriad of opportunities at EnviroScience.

“We would like to build a good team here to help out the Dubbo office and all the work that is happening around this area,” he says.

Andrés says with EnviroScience always on the lookout for Occupational Hygienists and Licenced Asbestos Assessors (LAA) to join the team, the Occupational Hygienist roles would suit anyone with a science or health background while the company provides “on the job training” for LAAs.

“A lot of people that want to do consultancy with us, we will pair them with someone that has experience to train and show them all the materials we work with as hazardous materials are something you need to be cautious with,” he says.

The opportunity to join a growing regionally based company is also a drawcard, he says, headed up by founder and CEO Juliet Duffy.

“She’s out there, she’s in the field, she’s at the desk, so she knows exactly what we need as she has been there doing all the things that we do for many years.”

Describing Juliet as a “highly accomplished and impressive professional”, he attributes her leadership to the strong positive culture that exists across the company.

“They really look after you,” he says. “It is a very warm environment where everyone looks out for each other.”