Central Arizona Project supports a strong safety culture and Senior Industrial Hygienist Christina Collins is a big part of that effort. Learn more about her work with CAP and how she keeps employees safe and accident-free.
In a nutshell, what do you do for CAP?
Industrial Hygienists are the scientists of the safety world. Our job is to protect people at work from chemical, physical and biological hazards. Here at CAP, that would be things like noise – and we have some really noisy facilities and equipment. My job is to make sure people don’t lose their hearing by being over-exposed to that noise.
With chemicals, I review every product that comes in for chemical safety to make sure we’re not putting our employees in hazardous situations – that it’s not carcinogenic or a sensitizer that could cause reactions over time. It’s not going to damage our employees’ lungs 20 years down the road – that’s why I’m here.
I also oversee CAP’s confined space program. We have more than 1,000 confined spaces across the system, so it’s not a small number. Across the country, employees are injured or killed in confined spaces every day. I work on a daily basis to help prevent that from happening to our employees and contractors.
How did you get into this line of work?
When I went to college, I was pre-med with a biochemistry major. I couldn’t pick a field of science because I loved them all! My sophomore year, a friend of mine suggested that I switch to environmental science because you get to study all the areas of science. As part of the environmental science program, I took a class on industrial hygiene and I fell in love with the profession. As an industrial hygienist I have the opportunity to do work in all the areas of science and help people, without being stuck in a laboratory.
How does the work you do on a daily basis affect our water supply?
I’m here to make sure the people who are maintaining our canal and our systems that move the water are able to do so in a safe manner. If someone gets hurt, it could shut the whole canal down. My job is to prevent injuries and to ultimately keep the water flowing.
What's the most challenging part of your work?
We have a lot of moving parts at CAP. When I first got here, I got to know the system by visiting every plant. Honestly, I had no idea walking in that moving water was this complex. We have a variety of potential hazards inherent in this vast system. For me to recognize, anticipate and control those hazards requires me to know what our employees are doing and where they’re doing it. Keeping track of that is challenging.