Small regional conferences often work better than major city-based conferences as the atmosphere is more relaxed, delegates are more approachable and there is less pressure to attend some grand trade expo.
Leo Ruschena has been a fixture in the occupational health and safety (OHS) scene in Victoria Australia for many years. In a short while he retires from his work as an OHS Lecturer with RMIT University. Retirement often means that knowledge and wisdom becomes less accessible to the public so SafetyAtWorkBlog spent some time with him recently and asked him to reflect.
Ruschena began his career as a chemical engineer with an economics degree working for nine years at Mount Isa Mines. In the mid -1970s he received a scholarship to study occupational hygiene in London UK, achieving his Masters. At that time OHS was an emerging area of study, legislation and political discourse. As Ruschena sees it:
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.
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.
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!