Meet Wes, one of our dedicated WHS trainers. After years of working as a Workplace Health and Safety Officer, he took the leap to become a trainer. We asked him what it’s like to work in workplace health and safety.
What’s it like to work in Workplace Health and Safety?
It’s very different. The job itself is very dynamic. Depending on the industry you work in (and the setting), things can happen fairly quickly. Ensuring the business follows safety obligations set by Safe Work Australia and State regulations can be a challenge.
What types of people do you think the sector really needs?
WHS (formerly known as occupational health and safety) needs people who are driven and passionate to deal with many different safety issues. There’s no substitute for these two elements. There’ll be days that test you, but you need to have the passion and drive to get through.
What does a typical day as a WHS worker look like?
That’s difficult to answer due to the various industries and positions. Generally, the Safety Advisor will be one of the first in and last out on any given day. There’ll be prestart meetings and inductions to be carried out, and from there the day really begins. The Safety Advisor is responsible for monitoring the processes and procedures being used. They also carry out inspections and advise workers and managers of requirements and risks. Depending on what happens during the day, things can get really busy pretty quickly.
What’s the most challenging, yet rewarding part of the job?
That’s a funny question. Safety is about trying to advise people of better (safer) ways to work. Dealing with people is always a challenge and can be really rewarding. It’s also a great forum because you’re always learning, training and developing your skills.
What’s the best part about working in WHS?
Definitely the variety. You can find yourself in a lot of different locations doing a lot of different tasks (depending on the industry). There’s a lot of room for growth, and most people flourish.
What made you want to become a WHS trainer?
I sort of fell into the role. I was working remotely and wanted more family time. A role became available and I was fortunate enough to get the chance. After over a decade of working as a trainer, I still enjoy seeing people expand their knowledge and move into the next phase of their career.
What experience does someone need?
You don’t really need experience per se, but an understanding of the systems used by workplaces is certainly an advantage.
What personal qualities make a good WHS worker?
Adaptability and problem-solving. Safety Advisors need to be able to adapt to different situations and solve problems as they arise. Being able to prioritise is also a great attribute.
What qualifications does a WHS worker need?
Basically, there are a lot of people thrown into WHS roles without any experience. The worker will then identify they need more knowledge, and will then look at getting their Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety.
What are the pay rates?
Pay rates vary depending on the industry. Service industries will generally be lower than others, while construction and mining are generally at the higher end of the market.
Is work typically full time, part-time, or casual?
Typically, the work is full time, but there are opportunities for part-time, casual and contract work. It all depends on the needs of the employer.
What are the hours?
The hours vary, with the health and safety team generally being among the first in and last out of the workplace.
What types of duties does the job involve?
The job generally involves maintaining the Safety Management System, reviewing procedures, consulting with workers and management. We also provide advice to those who need it. There’s no hard and fast duty statement as each sector and company has its own requirements.
What different types of workplaces do WHS workers work in?
Again, it all depends on the industry and the company. There’s a lot of remote work (Fly-in/Fly-out) and there are numerous positions in traditional occupations.
What different types of jobs are there in the sector?
You can start as a Safety Administrator, move into a role as a Safety Advisor, then onto a Safety Co-ordinator and Safety Manager. In the world of workplace health and safety, it all depends on where you want to go.
Who can do the course?
Anybody can complete a Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety. It’s a great starting point for a safety professional.
Will it be hard?
As with most learning experiences, it’ll be difficult initially but becomes easier as you progress.
How long will it take?
The average time for completion is around six to twelve months, depending on how much time someone is able to give to study and assessments.
How will someone be supported?
They’ll be supported by some of the nicest and most knowledgeable trainers you’ll ever meet. They’ll also receive great learning materials and resources. They’ll not only be able to access their course material online but speak to our experienced trainers.
Is it easy to find work?
Right across Australia, there are a lot of roles that need to be filled, but employers will generally be spoiled for choice. They’re looking for a level of experience. If you’re good at what you do and apply yourself, you’ll get work.
Some people are put off by this, but if you have experience within an industry and a passion for health and safety, you can easily prove you have what it takes.
Which course is right for the job?
A Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety is the best starting point for a career in WHS as it provides excellent basics like WHS laws and other legal requirements.
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