The Safety Institute of Australia has been investigating the development of a “core body of knowledge” for OHS in Australia for some years. Recently the institute released a discussion paper on the proposed accreditation idea for OH&S professionals. There is some similarity to moves in other countries such as the UK and to the situation in Canada. Regular contributor Col Finnie comments below:
“……after a read of [the SIA document I] got very confused. As far as I can see the accreditation thing seems to not paying any regard to the VET (vocational education) sector, and all the OH&S related quals. Before I make any comment on the proposed accreditation paper I thought I should look for some clarification from people who are more aware of the nitty gritty. To that end I posted a topic on the SIA Educators forum [members only]. But to reach a bigger audience I have provided a reproduction of the SIA member’s forum post here.
It’s part question, part observation of what seems to be an anomaly in the way the accreditation conversation seems to be heading. I’m keen to see what you people reckon. Reproduced post follows:
“G’day people. I’ve kept out of the debate on the body of knowledge and accreditation stuff. Partially that’s because I am in the long slow process of getting it all sorted from my end. Nearing getting the Cert IV Training and Assessment and then propose to rip in to collect an Advanced Diploma OH&S once the Cert IV is out the way. Once that’s all done I will be wanting to apply for CPMSIA membership (as an aside I consider, and I’m sure the punters would consider this grading as the most “solid” assurance I am competent in OH&S generalist stuff.)
But my core question, before I put time aside to respond to the latest discussion paper on “Proposal for program accreditation….”, is what the hell is going on?!
As far as I can see the discussion paper seems to be saying that the base level qualification for a generalist OH&S professional should be a graduate diploma. It says that despite the fact that the whole accreditation deal says it is taking into account the AQF. And clearly, the AQF now categorically nominates a diploma and advanced diploma as being appropriate for an OH&S advisor, with the later specifically referring to it being appropriate for a “senior consultant”.
My confusion is additionally fed by the fact that OH&S regulatory agencies did a huge amount of work advising skills councils about what should be in training packages if OH&S is being included in those packages. That work is in the Safe Work Australia paper “Guidelines for integrating OHS into national industry training packages” published in 2008: this paper seems to be invisible in the discussion about the core body of knowledge stuff. Have I missed something? Is it the case that the VET qualifications are being treated, for all intents and purposes, as being “invisible” (despite employers having a reasonable amount of confidence in these quals)?
As a general observation, wouldn’t it be the case that if a graduate diploma was to be considered the “entry-level” qual for an OH&S professional, that a vast majority of OH&S regulatory agency inspectors would be considered underqualified to do their job? Please accept that I haven’t posted this in a cynical frame of mind: I am genuinely confused by the approach being used in the accreditation discussions.”