Certification background & overview

Certification of people providing professional services is well recognised with accountants, human resources professionals, dieticians and engineers being just a few examples. Certification sets standards of education, experience, and demonstrated knowledge and skills and evaluates people against those standards. It gives increased confidence and guidance to employers, clients, workers and the community as to the competence and standing of the person providing professional advice, and provides a focus for career learning.

In the broader field of workplace health and safety there are a number of related disciplines who also provide OHS advice to workplaces including ergonomists, hygienists and medical providers, and these disciplines also have Certification processes in place.

Certification of Generalist OHS Professionals/Practitioners has long been standard practice in countries such as the USA, Canada, the UK and Europe. Australia initially lagged behind in implementing a Certification scheme for the profession, but in 2007 the Health and Safety Profession Alliance (HaSPA) confirmed in its minimum standards that Certification of those providing OHS advice is important in achieving the highest level of protection for employees, employers (and other workplace health and safety stakeholders) against risks to their health and safety. The need for a specific OHS professional Certification program was also noted by Worksafe Victoria in the Maxwell review of Victorian OHS legislation.

The Body of Knowledge project, funded by Worksafe Victoria, commenced in 2008 had three deliverables:

  1. Development and publication of the OHS Body of Knowledge;
  2. Accreditation of OHS professional education; and
  3. Certification of Generalist OHS Professionals/Practitioners.