I interviewed Mark Katchen who discussed Training People in Developing Countries on Environmental Health and Safety.







It’s great to speak with you today, Mark. I look forward to hearing your views on the topic of training people in developing countries on environmental health and safety. Can you first provide a brief background of yourself?


Sure. I’m the managing principal of The Phylmar Group. The Phylmar Group’s a peer-advisory organization. We run three different groups in the area of occupational health and safety and restricted substances and a supply chain of apparel and footwear companies. We’re also involved in the bio pharma area. Specific background in training and occupational health and safety is as an industrial hygienist. I’ve been doing this for about 30 years.


Great. A little bit of a background. I understand one of the key issues in the developing world regarding environmental health and safety when organizations and companies do supply chain on is that there are some problems. Can you talk about the problems and whether or not these audits are effective?


Sure. There are some benefits to these audits. They do uncover some issues as far as that are fairly obvious, but what we see, certainly recently, in areas like Bangladesh and some areas of Asia, they do miss a lot of things. The problem is, they were just going in and taking a quick snapshot; they’re not able to spend long periods of time just trying to cover a lot of areas. There are some definite gaps in the approach that the audit brings as well.


How do you address this problem?


One of the ways that, more recently, people are looking at is something we call capacity building. In other words, we’re trying to train workers who are in the location or the locales, get them hired so that you have someone in the factory of the supplier who understands the environmental health and safety area and can bring that expertise to bear on an ongoing basis as opposed to just a little bit here and there. That’s one of the solutions, if you will, of this issue of supply chain environmental health and safety compliance.


And do you have any examples you can share regarding some success?


Yes, as a matter of fact. One in particular is the Occupational Hygiene Training Association. This is an international group actually begun by British Petroleum and GlaxoSmithKline because they had this issue of not having the expertise where they needed it. The association was begun and they developed a number of courses primarily focused on industrial hygiene and occupational hygiene, developed originally by the University of Wollongong in Australia. These courses are typically five-day courses; they cover a multitude of industrial-hygiene issues, from exposure assessment to noise and dust and chemical agents, to some ergonomics and some other areas now. They’ve trained hundreds of people now, going through the process, where, in some cases, some of these courses have been and will be accepted as college credits or even graduate-school credits. This individual can move from either a technician level all the way up to a master’s level person in the environment health and safety area. The Occupational Hygiene Training Association has done a really good job of developing this model, which I think can be used again as a model for other organizations and their training areas.


Thanks, Mark, for sharing today.


Happy to do it, Dustin.




About Mark Katchen



Mark Katchen


Managing Principal at The Phylmar Group, Inc.


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