Celebrating excellence at the OHS Education Awards

Thursday, 30 June, 2022 - 14:00
Member update
National News

Last week the AIHS celebrated students and researchers who have shown excellence in the field of occupational health and safety at the OHS Education Awards which are presented as part of the Dr Eric Wigglesworth AM Memorial Lecture.

Each year Australian universities nominate students for one of two education awards – an undergraduate award, a postgraduate award, as well as the Dr Eric Wigglesworth research award, focused on their work throughout 2021. The awards are judged by a panel which this year was led by Angela Seidel, the Chair of the Australian OHS Education Accreditation Board (AOHSEAB), with Susanne Tepe, the Registrar of AOHSEAB, Peggy Trompf, and Leo Ruschena.

The recipient of this year’s Undergraduate Award was Mar Rohadatul ‘Aisy Umar from the University of Queensland. Mar received the award for her work on an innovative and complex project focused on exposure to Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) which are among International Agency for Research on Cancer’s priority carcinogens. She evaluated the use of silicone wristbands (used for passive sampling). The evaluation showed that 80% of wristband samples strongly aligned with estimated risks suggesting that wristbands accurately reflect actual exposure and are simpler and safer than biological monitoring. This pilot study was the first to use silicone wristbands to measure occupational PAH exposure in Australia. When asked what receiving the award means, Mar said "I know I still have much to learn, but with continued support and encouragement from associations like the AIHS, this motivates me to work even harder to bring about positive changes in the health and safety field."

The Postgraduate Award went to Akram Mekzada from Latrobe University. Akram explored the role of OHS professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic, to understand the roles they performed, their satisfaction with their level of involvement in planning and responding to COVID-19 in their workplace, and the factors affecting their involvement. The participants were drawn from five countries to examine potential differences between different jurisdictions and cultures. When receiving the award Akram said he was "honoured to have won the Postgraduate Award" and thanked the AIHS for the opportunities it provides.

The Dr Eric Wigglesworth OHS Research Award went to Dr Kelly Janzems, lecturer and researcher at Edith Cowan University. Kelly’s thesis reflects a human-centred approach to researching OHS communication. The study investigates how OHS information is currently communicated to, and by, different levels within an organization, and what opportunities there are for the health and safety profession to make (greater) use of everyday technologies such as social media. Presenting the perspectives of individual employees and workplace communities, the thesis offers deep, multilayered insights into how OHS is communicated within organizations and explores how such communication is received by employees and those outside an organization.

When asked what receiving the award means, Dr Janzems said "having my research recognised by the AIHS means so much as it signifies that the work that I am so passionate about resonates with others. I would like to thank both the examiners and the AIHS for this award. I hope that the recognition of my work can serve as an inspiration to others, particularly those who research safety and health from a social science perspective."

David Clarke, CEO of the AIHS described the importance of the awards by saying, “From those beginning their pathways in the education system to those building new evidence for practice, the Institute is striving to promote a culture of learning, where we all expect of ourselves that we grow in capability right throughout our careers, continuously learning.” Each winner receives a financial stipend to assist in their further education or research activities.