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Jason Roberts

Program Manager WHS, Logistics and Project Management Trainer Open Colleges

Jason Roberts

"To gain access to the industry you need to get two things knowledge and experience: knowledge can be gained through a qualification and the industry benchmark to enter a WHS related career is the Cert IV in WHS."

Jason began his career in the hospitality industry as a chef and was named Australian International Apprentice of the Year. He has spent several years as restaurant manager, catering manager and operations manager, and has been involved in business development and health and safety auditing for some of the world's largest food manufacturers. Jason is an associate member of the Safety Institute of Australia and has been training and assessing in the fields of TAE, OHS/WHS and Frontline Management. His qualifications include a Diploma in Training and Assessment, Advanced Diploma of WHS, Diploma of Quality Auditing and Certificate IV in Frontline Management.

He holds a Bachelor of Media & Communications from Macquarie University in Sydney.

1 What is the Australian WHS industry like, how is it unique?

Five years ago we began a transition from OHS to WHS, with the plan of a model WHS legislation to apply across all states. This however hit some snares and we still have two states that are on their own OHS legislation being Victoria and Western Australia. This makes it unique as we still have many differences in terminology and governing practices with regulators. WHS is across all industries from offices to manufacturing and fisheries this makes it an ever-changing and challenging regulated environment. Our statistics show we are not the safest country when it comes to work but we are on the road to becoming safer at what we do. Technology advancements have both hindered and assisted in this process. Being an island we have high sea based activities that contribute to some of the highest incident rates some of these factor are out of our control such as weather which makes it unique in how we have to develop systems and processes to combat these issues.

2 What advice would you offer students looking to get into the WHS industry?

To gain access to the industry you need to get two things knowledge and experience: knowledge can be gained through a qualification and the industry benchmark to enter a WHS related career is the Cert IV in WHS. Experience can also be gained through a qualification but also in everyday life and workplaces, it is simply looking at tasks you do and deciding is this the best safest way to perform this task. If I'm mowing the lawn maybe I should put shoes on and wear protective sunglasses. WHS is all around us and it's up to us to determine analysis the risks we take each day.

3 What are the top 3 things employers are looking for in a WHS professional?

1. An eye for detail
2. A proactive nature rather than a reactive one
3. The right attitude towards safety

4 What are some of the upcoming trends in WHS?

  • The rates of serious workers claims are continuing to decline.

  • Serious claims are now becoming more balanced in relation to gender 52% male 48% female.

  • Most serious claims come from the 50-54 age group.

  • The highest incident rates in Australia occur offshore at 32 incidents per 1000 workers.

  • The highest incidents occur in the occupation of labourers.

  • The industry with the highest number of “incidents per employees” is the agriculture, forestry and fisheries industry. They have held this for 3 years running.
  • 5 How has the WHS industry changed over recent years in Australia?

    With the transition from OHS to WHS and a Model WHS legislation starting in the back end of 2011 and then 2012, this changed the way we looked at health and safety in the workplace and our lives, volunteers and volunteer organisations are now accounted for and protected in legislation, fines and penalties are increased to ensure due diligence by all. WHS has now over the recent years become an important part of all business big and small as we can now see as a country the impact in both in cost and personal loss that this is having on our country. It is no longer enough to say we will try to do our best; organisations now need to prove they are doing everything they can to minimise the likelihood of incidents occurring in the workplace.

    6 What's the secret to staying relevant in the industry?

    1. Professional development is important.
    2. You need to subscribe to industry newsletters, publications, and state regulators’ newsletters to keep up to date with changes.
    3. Regular reviews of legislation and regulations should be conducted.
    4. Education is also important for retaining and increasing your knowledge.
    5. WHS is not a stagnant industry and is ever constantly changing if you don't keep up you will be left behind.

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