The Australian OHS Education Accreditation Board was established in August 2011.
Why was the Accreditation Board established?
In 2007, the Health and Safety Professionals Alliance (HaSPA) identified the need for generalist OHS professionals to be professionally certified. Development of such a certification program required definition of the knowledge base (the OHS Body of Knowledge) and recognition of approved education programs. However, research, together with anecdotal information, showed that there was substantial variation in OHS education provided by Australian universities and gaps in the coverage of some important OHS topics. The Australian OHS Education Accreditation Board is a direct outcome of the OHS Body of Knowledge project developed to accredit OHS professional educational programs and support and promote OHS professional education.
What is the Accreditation Board?
The Accreditation Board is established under the By Laws of the Safety Institute of Australian. It is an independent body in relation to setting of standards and decision-making related to accreditation.
How does the work of the Accreditation Board support health and safety of Australian workers?
The Board has the vision that OHS professional education is based on strong scientific and technical concepts, evidenced-informed, delivered by suitably competent persons and so recognised by the profession, government, industry and the community. This vision is reflected in the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-2022 Healthy Safe and Productive Working Lives which includes the strategic outcome that those providing work health and safety education, training and advice have the appropriate capabilities. The activities of the Accreditation Board directly supports this national strategic outcome by ensuring that OHS professional education is based on educational design and review processes, and delivery of learning appropriate to develop graduates equipped with the knowledge and skills to enter the workplace as effective entry-level OHS professionals.
What does the Accreditation Board do?
The core activity of the Board is to review university-level OHS professional education programs and provides recognition for those programs that meet the Accreditation Criteria. The Accreditation Board also engages with government agencies involved in OHS policy and regulation, the Higher Education sector and supports recognition awards as an important part of promoting OHS education. The Accreditation Board is ‘custodian’ of the OHS Body of Knowledge and is responsible for ensuring its currency and further development. It is also involved in an international network where one of the activities is developing a Global Framework for OHS Practice.
Who is on the Accreditation Board?
The Accreditation Board has broad representation from OHS professionals, OHS academics, OHS professional bodies including the Safety Institute of Australia (SIA), Australian Institute of Occupational Hygiene (AIOH), Human Factors and Ergonomics Society of Australia (HFESA), Australian New Zealand Society for Occupational Medicine (ANZSOM) and the Australian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (AFOEM). It also has representation from the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), employers and regulators. The Board benefits from the membership of an education academic from outside the OHS arena.
Review of implementation of accreditation
Accreditation of university-level OHS education commenced in 2012. As part of the quality assurance processes the Accreditation Board undertook a review in 2014.”
Celebrating first 5 years
The Australian OHS Education Accreditation Board celebrated its fifth anniversary in August 2016. In a presentation delivered prior to the 2016 Wigglesworth lecture the Registrar, Pam Pryor, reviewed the achievements in the first five years acknowledging the contribution of inaugural members of the Board. In this presentation Pam made special comment of the input of the education advisor to the Board, Emeritus Professor Bruce King. As an education specialist Bruce brought a set of skills and a perspective that was broader than OHS. He provided direction to the Board in the development of the accreditation criteria and process, he participated in every accreditation assessment and provided valued comment and feedback to universities during informal interviews and more formal accreditation reports.