CEO changes in Australian OHS

As safety professionals start to return to work in Australia after their Summer break, speculation for 2010 increases.

Many are wondering who will replace John Merritt as the executive Director of WorkSafe Victoria?  The appointment process is likely to take a couple of months but there are several possible candidates.

One could be Julia Davison of WorkCover South Australia.  On 15 January 2010 the chair of the WorkCover SA board, Philip Bentley, informed the IR Minister that Davison will be leaving her CEO position in mid-2010.  The timing is good.

One rumour is that Paul Serong may be available for the WorkSafe Victoria position after leaving Xchanging recently.  Serong has been a managing director with workers’ compensation agent Xchanging (formerly Cambridge) for several years and was, sometime before that, the executive chairman of the Insurance and Finance Managers of Australia.

Serong has the right pedigree and is an astute observer of workers’ compensation and OHS, which would be useful as national OHS and workers’ compensation reforms are scheduled for the next few years.  (I had some direct dealings with him when I was on the judging panel for Cambridge’s OHS awards several years ago.)

Jon Blackwell left his role as CEO of WorkCover New South Wales in 2009 but there is no indication that he will be staying in the OHS area.  A new CEO, Lisa Hunt, was appointed in December 2009 and started last week.

The changes at CEO level are nothing new but the timings are, perhaps, fortuitous.  It may be that CEOs of OHS regulators and insurers will be shuffled around and it may be just as likely that WorkSafe Victoria will appoint from within.

It will be interesting to watch the new CEOs over the next 12 months as new executives always feel obliged to do something noticeable and soon so that the clients know they have arrived and the boards can be comfortable that the new recruit can achieve something.  But in OHS in Australia, this will all be operating under the shadow of the national OHS legal reforms.

Kevin Jones

reservoir, victoria, australia
Categories business, executives, government, OHS, politics, Uncategorized, WorkCover, WorkSafeTags , , , ,

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