Configuring the safety profession for the future

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In support of this year’s election of new Board members to the Safety Institute of Australia, the Safety on Tap podcast has granted each nominee ten minutes to introduce themselves.  Some of these episodes raised the following points of interest:

  • The need to change the demographics of the occupational health and safety (OHS) profession to reflect society.
  • Any organisation that is undergoing change must acknowledge that even though it may be replacing “old school” thinking and structures, sustainable progress is best achieved by accepting the future is built by “standing on the shoulders of giants”.
  • Just because an organisation or profession has been structured one way in the past does not mean that structure remains applicable for the future.

Continue reading “Configuring the safety profession for the future”

What is a safety professional and what do they do?

David Provan recently provided access to one of his research papers through LinkedIn while it is open. The paper is a literature review of the factors shaping the role of a safety professional.  It is a difficult and confusing read until one reaches the Conclusion.  This is not Provan’s fault but is an indication of the confusing and conflicting roles, actions, obligations and qualifications of the occupational health and safety (OHS) professional revealed by the research literature.

However, the Conclusion provides a good summary of all the literature with some useful strategies to improve the OHS conversation.

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OHS and Marcus Cattani

Marcus Cattani at the cricket
Marcus Cattani at the cricket

Dr Marcus Cattani, is a Senior Lecturer in Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) within the School of Medical and Health Sciences at Edith Cowan University and a leading Australian OHS consultant. SafetyAtWorkBlog endeavoured to glimpse the person behind the qualifications by asking Dr Cattani some safety-related questions and he was kind enough to respond.

What attracted you to looking at workplace health and safety?  Did you fall into it or always have an interest?

I was lucky enough to find out about WHS when I was around 20 years old, during my environmental science based college course.  At that time, in the late 1980’s the trend for people finishing my course was to work in asbestos management or in Council environmental teams, neither of which really excited me!

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Great safety book let down by the format

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Carsten Busch Book Cover002Carsten Busch has self-published “Safety Myth 101” – a book that is one of the most comprehensive discussions on contemporary approaches to occupational health and safety (OHS).  But it is also riddled with the problems of many self-published books – the lack of a strong and tough editor, an unattractive presentation and a mess of footnotes, references and endnotes. The content is very good which makes reading this book a frustrating experience.

I can’t help thinking that the book would have been more effective in a more modern online format that would have allowed for word searches, hyperlinks and  interaction with readers.  In fact, a wiki may have been the best option for Busch’s very valuable content.  But what of this valuable content? Continue reading “Great safety book let down by the format”

OHS Professionals get, or want, global attention

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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. Continue reading “OHS Professionals get, or want, global attention”