OHS Professionals get, or want, global attention 2

Pages from INSHPO_2015-OHS_Professional_Capability_FrameworkThe International Network of Safety & Health Practitioner Organisations (INSHPO) has launched the “The OHS Professional
Capability Framework – A Global Framework for Practice“.  The document reflects many of the issues raised in recently published research on occupational health and safety (OHS) professionalism, accreditation and certification.  However there are a couple of useful issues to note, from a very brief review, that indicate a major step forward.

Professional, Practitioner, Generalist

Australian OHS professionals have felt insulted over the last few years by the use of the title “OHS Generalist”.  The proponents of this concept failed to understand that the term was divisive (and insulting to some) and this failure indicates a persistent problem in communicating change to the OHS profession in a manner that fosters cooperation.  The INSHPO document seems to drop the Generalist category so beloved by the Australian OHS Education Accreditation Board. More…

“Old” documents improve the context of modern OHS initiatives 6

cover of Professional Development Needs of Generalist OHS PractitionersSeveral long and involved phone conversations resulted from last week’s articles on Australia’s Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Body of Knowledge (BoK) and its role in accreditation of tertiary OHS courses.  It is worth looking at the origins of some of the issues behind the research on these safety initiatives.

One important document was published by the National OHS Commission (NOHSC, a forerunner of Safe Work Australia) in 1999 – “Professional Development Needs of Generalist OHS Practitioners“* .  This NOHSC document continues to be referenced in the continuing debates listed above and illustrates the need to understand our recent OHS past. More…

Is Australia’s OHS Body of Knowledge a dud? 1

An online version of Safety Science includes an article by Gunther Paul and Warwick Pearse who discuss “An international benchmark for the Australian OHS Body of Knowledge” (paywalled). Paul and Pearse have been critical of the emphasis given the OHS Body of Knowledge (OHS BoK) in the the accreditation processes of Australian OHS professionals and the accreditation of tertiary OHS courses.  In this article they benchmarked the OHS BoK against three other international bodies of knowledge and ranked it the lowest in quality, structure and content.

[This article can be read as a companion piece to an article published earlier today] More…

Accreditation research paper misses the mark 6

The discussion of Australian occupational health and safety (OHS) education and accreditation continues in the academic press.  A recent contribution is from Pam Pryor, Registrar of the Australian OHS Education Accreditation Board (AOHSEAB) entitled “Accredited OHS professional education: A step change for OHS capability” (paywalled).  Pryor continues to make the case for the necessity of accreditation for university OHS courses but evidence seems to remain thin and an arbitrary differentiation between competence and capability is hard to understand outside of academic discourse. More…

Safety wisdom from 1970 2

Robens Human EngineeringWhile researching a blog article I found a 1970 copy of Lord Robens‘ book “Human Engineering”.  On page 124 of that book, Robens writes:

“The apathy towards safety in most industry results in the misuse of safety officers, where they exist. Indeed there are basically two types of safety officers: the professional performing his life’s work, and the man appointed (usually from the shop floor) so that the company can claim to have a safety officer. The latter usually does not posses the experience or training to undertake the vast amount of work expected of him. It has been mooted that standard would be raised by creating a professional status for these officials: an idea that should not be dismissed lightly.”

Such an attitude to workplace safety by many businesses continues to exist.

And if Robens thought that a professional status for safety officers was a good idea in 1970, how come Australia has only just instigated one?  Why did it take so long?  Why was professional status not considered necessary for over 40 years?

(For Australian readers here is a list of public libraries, or bookshops, that stock the Robens book. OHS students may find it offers a fascinating comparative study)

Kevin Jones

Debate over OHS accreditation and professionalism remains messy 1

In May 2015, SafetyAtWorkBlog wrote an article about a research report that questioned the Safety Institute of Australia’s (SIA) push for certification of occupational health and safety(OHS) professionals and the accreditation of tertiary OHS courses. The article caused quite a stir and a lively dialogue. Pam Pryor of the Australian OHS Education Accreditation Board (AOHSEAB) provided a response to the research findings which did not seem to address, clearly, the points raised in the original article.  In a recent edition of the Journal of Health Safety and Environment, AOHSEAB’s Chair Emeritus Professor Mike Capra wrote a letter to the editor (not available online) to clarify and rebut.  The debate continues but does not necessarily progress. More…

The SIA identifies four big issues for it in 2015 8

The Safety Institute of Australia‘s (SIA) CEO David Clarke revealed his four big issues for the SIA at a recent breakfast function in Melbourne.

Policy Agenda

Clarke stated that he had instigated the creation of a National Policy Agenda for the SIA – a first for the over 60-year-old registered charity.  Clarke emphasised that the SIA needed to understand the language of government, employers and unions as it relates to safety.  The significance of the agenda was reinforced by Clarke who said that without such a strategy, the SIA would struggle for relevance.


Another priority was the certification of the occupational health and safety (OHS) profession in Australia.  Clarke admitted that this was a controversial move but sees the establishment of a “licence to operate” as vital to increasing the status of the profession. More…

A top OHS blog for 2014 13

I am very proud to receive recognition from LexisNexis again in 2014 for my work on the SafetyAtWorkBlog.  On 16 December 2014 LexisNexis Legal Newsroom Workers’ Compensation named the SafetyAtWorkBlog as one of the Top Blogs for Workers’ Compensation and Workplace Issues. It is a great honour for a blog that is self-funded and written in my spare time.

LexisNexis has described some of the articles as “insightful and entertaining” and reflective. One article in particular was a discussion spurred by the writings of Terry Reis and would not have been possible without his initial article.

I thank LexisNexis for this unexpected honour and feel very proud to be amongst the other honourees for 2014.  It is good to see new ones on the list and encourage all those OHS professionals who feel they have something to say, to say it.  The more voices the OHS profession has, the richer our debates and the greater our state of knowledge.

Kevin Jones


Safety Culture remains an alchemy Reply

Safety Culture is an issue that has turned up in disaster investigations, training programs intended to change attitudes, benchmarking exercises and reviews into workplace fatalities, overpriced and evangelical corporate products and as pitiful excuses for mistakes.  Yet it still remains poorly understood and poorly defined as shown by a recent article in ISHN magazine.

The magazine asked “safety and health exerts” on their opinions about Safety Culture.  Below is a sample of the comments:

Safety culture has turned into a marketing ploy.

Safety culture is part of common language and pops up all over the place – and as in beauty it’s in the eye of the beholder. More…

When did LinkedIn become the social media for brown-nosers? 12

PikachuLinkedIn is a useful adjunct to the social media of Facebook, MySpace and many other incarnations.  The professional network is a terrific idea but it has several problems – one is misuse or misunderstanding LinkedIn’s function, the other is the ridiculousness of Endorsements.  Given that LinkedIn is as popular in the OHS profession as in any other, the problems, as I see them, are worth discussing.

Linking to Strangers

According to Wikipedia:

“One purpose of the site is to allow registered users to maintain a list of contact details of people with whom they have some level of relationship, called Connections.”

From the user’s perspective this is the principal purpose of LinkedIn .  One is able to maintain informal contact with current and previous work colleagues.  When one’s work status changes, the linked network is advised.  As many contact details as one wants to include are placed on an individual’s profile.

There is a sense to linking peers and colleagues but this purpose, in my opinion, is seriously degraded by total strangers requesting to be linked to you. More…