The im­por­tance of OHS– 11

The Advertiser - Careers - - Front Page - JILL PENGELLEY

IN just six months last year, 63 Aus­tralians were killed do­ing their job. They were not sol­diers in bat­tle but farm­ers, labour­ers, driv­ers and min­ers.

Work­place haz­ards have re­duced over the decades but there is more to be done.

A spe­cial­ist ca­reer has emerged in the field of oc­cu­pa­tional health and safety (OHS) to con­tinue the de­cline.

Safe­Work SA field and front­line ser­vices di­rec­tor Juanita Lo­vatt says it can be a de­mand­ing but sat­is­fy­ing ca­reer.

‘‘Help­ing peo­ple get home to their loved ones by as­sist­ing an or­gan­i­sa­tion to have a work­place free of in­jury and fa­tal­ity is the ul­ti­mate re­ward,’’ she says.

‘‘Peo­ple de­velop a pas­sion for OHS, ei­ther by be­ing a health and safety rep­re­sen­ta­tive or through ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a trauma at work. For oth­ers, it is a log­i­cal ex­ten­sion of their ex­ist­ing ex­pe­ri­ence within an in­dus­try.’’

Health and safety rep­re­sen­ta­tives still play a piv­otal role in li­ais­ing with fel­low work­ers and man­age­ment about safety is­sues.

They of­ten also are fire war­dens and first-aid of­fi­cers for their work­places, as well as un­der­tak­ing their usual work du­ties.

In­dus­tries with more haz­ards, how­ever, will also have at least one ded­i­cated OHS of­fi­cer.

Ms Lo­vatt says they are typ­i­cally em­ployed in the man­u­fac­tur­ing, con­struc­tion, health and min­ing in­dus­tries.

Po­si­tions are of­ten also avail­able in ar­eas of man­age­ment con­sul­tancy and large com­mer­cial in­sti­tu­tions in­clud­ing banks, in­surance, govern­ment and re­tail or­gan­i­sa­tions.

She says OHS pro­fes­sion­als should be good com­mu­ni­ca­tors and ca­pa­ble of be­ing ‘‘in­flu­encers or per­suaders’’.

Other es­sen­tial at­tributes in­clude ex­cel­lent writ­ing abil­i­ties, use of logic and rea­son­ing, good prob­lem-solv­ing skills and use of good judg­ment and de­ci­sion- mak­ing. They need to have aw­ide knowl­edge of laws, codes of prac­tice and stan­dards.

Du­ties may in­clude work­place in­spec­tions, train­ing staff, re­port­ing in­ci­dents and in­tro­duc­ing pre­ven­tion ini­tia­tives.

Qualifications range from TAFE cer­tifi­cates and diplo­mas to uni­ver­sity de­grees and PhDs.

An­drew Cooper is SA health and safety man­ager for en­gi­neer­ing and ar­chi­tec­tural firm GHD, which Safe­Work Aus­tralia re­cently named the nation’s Best ( pri­vate sec­tor) Work­place Health and Safety Man­age­ment Sys­tem.

‘‘I had a near-miss of my own prior to join­ing GHD, in a pre­vi­ous role in the UK,’’ Mr Cooper said.

‘‘It made me think se­ri­ously about the im­pli­ca­tions for my fam­ily of an in­jury, or worse, and gen­er­ated my strong pas­sion for im­proved safety man­age­ment.’’

Pic­ture: Calum Robert­son

SAFE AND SOUND: GHD’s SA health and safety man­ager An­drew Cooper has a pas­sion for im­proved safety.

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