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The Safety Institute of Australia together with the Australian OHS Education Accreditation Board last night awarded Dr Kirstin Ferguson the prestigious Eric Wigglesworth OHS Education (Research) Award for her Doctor of Philosophy thesis A study of safety governance and safety leadership for board members and senior executives. Ferguson undertook her research at the Queensland University of Technology School of Business.

This award, which includes a $5000 professional development fund, is awarded for doctoral research that demonstrates a significant contribution to the OHS body of knowledge, potential for application in preventing work-related fatalities, injuries, disease and/or ill-health and demonstrated dissemination of research outcomes to relevant parties.
In receiving the award Ferguson said “As a professional company director myself, I am all too aware of how achieving strong safety performance in an organisation requires senior leaders to think about health and safety well beyond simply ensuring compliance with relevant legislation.”

Patrick Murphy of the SIA endorsed the importance of Ferguson’s work for OHS Professionals. “OHS professionals are critical to facilitating a ‘beyond compliance’ approach to workplace health and safety. They are subject matter experts in their field of expertise and are therefore able to add value to boards and senior executive teams. This work gives OHS Professionals a safety governance framework to help drive workplace health and safety outcomes that link business excellence with strong safety performance.”

Pam Pryor, Registrar of the Australian OHS Education Accreditation Board, commented that Ferguson’s contribution to expanding OHS knowledge through doctoral research was selected from a strong field of candidates all of whose research is important to the OHS body of knowledge. OHS in Australia can only benefit from such critical analysis.
Pryor went on to say “Ferguson’s approach to her research and her outcomes would be welcomed by Dr Eric Wigglesworth for whom this award is named. He not only was a major influence in OHS education but was a strong advocate for critical research to underpin practice.”

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