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Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Alert24 - Safeguard Update

Pushing professional competency

Pushing professional competency
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New Zealand

The New Zealand Safety Council is celebrating its tenth birthday with the launch of new a diploma aimed to establishing minimum standards for all health and safety practitioners.

Founder and executive director David Calvert is excited about the initiative, the latest move in the Safety Council's long campaign to raise professional standards across the OHS industry.

"We want to light a fire under any consultants and practitioners who aren't competent," he told Safeguard. "There must be several thousand people with health and safety in their job title, but perhaps two-thirds of them have no formal qualification or acknowledged professional competency."

Calvert says the diploma, based on Australian government standards, will be tutored by senior consultants and will assess candidates on projects carried out within their own workplaces.

"Our belief is that it's not enough just to have knowledge. To be an effective practitioner you must also have the skills to apply that knowledge, and that's what has often been lacking in New Zealand. This diploma aims to address that."

As part of its bid to make the diploma a recognised minimum standard, the Safety Council plans to challenge all Department of Labour inspectors and ACC injury prevention consultants to complete it, even if they already have other OHS qualifications.
"If we can make the diploma the minimum standard for the industry, ultimately there will be a body of registered OHS people and no one else would be able to legitimately call themselves a safety-anything."

Training and education is the Council's core function, Calvert says. "We have trained 600 auditors so now people can be confident that they are being audited by someone who knows how to do it properly. I'm quite proud of that."

He regrets, however, that when the organisation's Registered Safety Professional standards were established in 2004, the programme was aimed at those already in safety management roles rather than young people entering the profession. There has long been a need for new blood in the OHS industry, he believes, but recently he has seen encouraging signs that younger people are now viewing health and safety as a career option.

Like its counterparts in the UK and Australia, the Safety Council also campaigns on public safety issues, and Calvert is proud of its success in promoting photo-electric smoke alarms to replace ionisation models.

"When we first started lobbying on this, photo-electric alarms were very expensive, but we've managed to get their price down so it's now the same as the ionisation ones. But we've only gone half the way. Now we want to ban ionisation alarms because they don't work."

Calvert says his next big challenge will be to ensure that the Safety Council continues "if I drop dead." He admits that it may be hard to find someone willing to commit as much time and energy to the organisation as he does, but believes the way the council's training capabilities are expanding may hold the key for its future survival.

People Mentioned:
David Calvert
Organisations Mentioned:
New Zealand Safety Council
Reference No:

From Alert24 - Safeguard Update

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