Safe working environments are essential for employees and employers, as well as visitors and anyone in the vicinity. Work Health and Safety (WHS) covers everything from hazard control and safe operating practices, to bullying and workplace harassment. Every industry in Australia will have different requirements for WHS and different issues that can arise, from agriculture to retail services. This is why a career in WHS presents a variety of opportunities.
It’s a constantly evolving career and an important one in workplaces around the country. In 2021 so far, 58 Australians have been killed at work. In 2012-13, work-related injury and disease cost the Australian economy $61.8 billion. This represented 4.1% of the GDP.
WHS costs individuals, businesses, and the community billions of dollars every year (not to mention the lives lost). It’s up to WHS officers to reduce risks and help to keep everyone safe at work.
But what exactly does a WHS officer do? Let’s take a closer look.
What does a WHS officer do?
The role of a WHS officer can vary from industry to industry, but their functions include to:
- Notify the person conducting the business or undertaking (PCBU) regarding work health and safety matters.
- Identify the hazards and risks arising from the work.
- Report (in writing) to the PCBU any hazards and risks identified.
- Immediately notify the PCBU regarding:
- any incident they are aware of that has occurred; or
- any imminent or immediate risk to health and safety.
- Investigate, or assist the investigation for, any incidents that have occurred.
- Assist and accompany any inspectors during an inspection of the business or undertaking.
- Create and manage educational and training programs for the workplace.
As you can see, WHS officers have many responsibilities and must be properly trained and certified to carry out the role. A person conducting the business or undertaking can only appoint someone as a WHS officer if they have a certificate of authority for appointment as a WHS officer.
What is a WHS qualification?
A qualification in WHS prepares you for the roles and responsibilities of a work health and safety officer, and gives you the authority to undertake the role. Receiving a qualification is essential, so anyone looking at advancing their career in WHS will need to take a certified course.
There are a range of courses that you can take online, but the BSB41419 Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety is considered the starting point for enhancing your career. This is the perfect course for people looking to advance their career or pivot their career.
Some of the key areas of learning in this course include:
- Assisting with workplace compliance with WHS laws.
- Contributing to the implementation and maintenance of WHS consultation and participation processes.
- Contributing to WHS risk management.
- Contributing to implementing WHS management systems.
- Contributing to workplace incident response.
After receiving this nationally recognised qualification, graduates will be able to work as a health and safety officer anywhere in Australia and in a range of industries and settings.
There are also other courses that can broaden your knowledge and advance your career in the field. Take a look below at our full list of courses.
Work Health and Safety Courses
OPEC College has a range of WHS courses for starting and advancing careers in this field, setting graduates up with an employment edge. No matter where you are in your career, vocational education is not only a great learning experience, it sets you up for future success.
Here’s the courses we offer:
BSB41419 Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety – The Certificate IV is a mid-level qualification and suitable for people working in a WHS role who work to provide leadership and guidance to others and have some limited responsibility for the output of others. The qualification reflects the role of workers who apply a broad knowledge base and well developed skills in a wide variety of contexts and may include coordinators, advisors and facilitators. It is available through Recognition of Prior Learning and online study.
BSB51319 Diploma of Work Health and Safety – The Diploma is suitable for people who coordinate and maintain the Work Health and Safety program in an organisation. It reflects the role of practitioners who apply a substantial knowledge base and well-developed skills in a wide variety of WHS contexts. It is available through Recognition of Prior Learning and online study.
BSB60619 Advanced Diploma of Work Health and Safety – The Advanced Diploma is suitable for people who apply advanced practical knowledge to coordinate, facilitate and maintain the WHS program in one or more fields of work in an organisation, such as a WHS practitioner or HR practitioner. They may work under the guidance of an occupational health and safety professional. For OPEC College this is a Recognition of Prior Learning only course.
To find out more about our courses in WHS, including the Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety, you can call our friendly team on 1300 99 6732. If you’re ready to enrol, you can enrol online here.