Safeguarding Australians: mapping the strengths and challenges towards sustainable improvements in OHS education and practice

Other


Toft, Yvonne, Capra, Mike, Kift, Ryan, Moodie-Bain, Debra, Pryor, Pam, Eddington, Ian and Joubert, Darren. 2010. Safeguarding Australians: mapping the strengths and challenges towards sustainable improvements in OHS education and practice. Sydney, Australia. Australian Learning and Teaching Council Limited.
Title

Safeguarding Australians: mapping the strengths and challenges towards sustainable improvements in OHS education and practice

Report TypeOther
AuthorsToft, Yvonne (Author), Capra, Mike (Author), Kift, Ryan (Author), Moodie-Bain, Debra (Author), Pryor, Pam (Author), Eddington, Ian (Author) and Joubert, Darren (Author)
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Number of Pages102
Year2010
PublisherAustralian Learning and Teaching Council Limited
Place of PublicationSydney, Australia
ISBN9781921856075
Web Address (URL)http://www.sia.org.au/research/projects
Abstract

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The broad aim of Safeguarding Australians was to facilitate alignment of Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) education with evolving workforce requirements. With a focus on education of the generalist OHS professional, the project was informed by current issues in OHS education, including:
• lack of an agreed core body of knowledge for OHS;
• lack of clarity regarding the required level of education for an OHS professional;
• appropriateness of current teaching strategies for equipping OHS professionals for operation in a changing business environment;
• appropriateness of external modes of delivery of OHS programs;
• availability of suitably qualified OHS educators; and
• preparation of OHS professionals to be lifelong learners.

Literature relevant to education of the generalist OHS professional was reviewed with thematic attention on integrity of the profession, student learning and the OHS ‘academy.’

The investigation strategy was geared to facilitating extensive consultation with OHS professional, regulator, educator, registered training organisation and graduate stakeholders. Action research methodology allowed a cyclic multi-phase process of data collection and analysis, with ongoing refinement of survey instruments. Various combinations of stakeholder groups were included in focus group discussions, surveys, telephone interviews and a workshop.

Mapping the content and delivery of OHS education at Australian universities involved exploring the disciplinary underpinning of current programs, and eliciting stakeholder expectations of the learning outcomes and underpinning curricula required for generalist OHS professional competency. Further insight resulted from identification of strengths, challenges and gaps in the delivery of OHS education as perceived by stakeholders. Three key requirements for delivery of required OHS graduate outcomes were identified: 1) undergraduate tertiary education has to be recognised as the entry-level qualification for generalist OHS professionals; 2) OHS undergraduate education programs need a multidisciplinary base; and 3) a work-integrated learning model of education needs to underpin the curriculum design process. Assessment of the sustainability of the academy of OHS educators highlighted ominous negative influences. In an ALTC OHS Educators’ Workshop, analysed data were presented for discussion and validation by stakeholders. At this workshop, Wenger’s (1998) notion of a ‘community of practice’ provided a fruitful perspective for discussing how OHS educators might engage for their own professional development and to strengthen OHS professional education. Empowered to take ownership of project outcomes, workshop participants established the Academy of OHS Education and Research, a significant project outcome with potential for massive positive impact on the future of OHS education in Australia.

Keywordsoccupational health and safety; education and training
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020350505. Occupational and workplace health and safety
399999. Other education not elsewhere classified
350503. Human resources management
Byline AffiliationsCentral Queensland University
University of Queensland
University of Western Sydney
Safety Institute of Australia, Australia
Faculty of Business
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