The health and safety profession has a unique voice, and as the national association for workplace health & safety, it is our job to represent that voice in areas of policy and practice within Australia. To do that, the AIHS has a well-established Policy Committee that works hard to keep in consultation with members and the wider profession, create submissions based on their needs, and present these to regulators and other stakeholders to advance WHS policy issues.
We spoke with the outgoing Chair of the AIHS Policy Committee Andrew Heinrichs to discuss who makes up the committee, how they decide on their areas of focus, as well as where more work is needed. The committee currently consists of 10 members, covering a wide range of expertise and industries. “This includes healthcare, government, consulting, small business, mining and construction, retail, and emergency services,” said Andrew.
The AIHS establishes policies and positions drawing on practical knowledge and evidence from the best available research, the direct experiences of the profession and other workplace health and safety stakeholders, and the investigation of emerging and innovative ideas. “Through our surveys, calls for feedback and independent reviews, the areas that gain the greatest attention are the core OHS regulations and associated Codes of Practice. These policies impact our members every day in their work,” said Andrew. “Within this, we consistently see calls for risk and evidence-based policies that are as simple as possible for employers to follow and make the work of OHS professionals as efficient as possible.”
The Institute is constantly evolving our work in policy, as the needs of the profession change, we need to remain agile to keep up with the changing landscape of work being done. “Since I have been involved in late 2020 our policy submissions have increased in quantity and quality. We reach a broader section of industry now, and we have built up a strong record of sensible and valuable contributions,” said Andrew.
When discussing areas in which more work is needed Andrew said “I think we need to start to build a coherent narrative around regulating the profession. Whether that is suitably qualified standards or some other framework. I think we are ready to take that next step.”
“We are working through a formalised, forward-looking policy agenda. There are so many areas we could focus on, from evolving OHS reporting to OHS in client (including government) procurement processes. We want our agenda to be as inclusive as possible”, said Andrew.
We would like to thank Andrew Heinrichs and the Policy Committee for the valuable work they do on behalf of the AIHS, our members and the wider profession, to advocate with courage on policy that improves legislation, regulation and standards.
You can view the full history of our submissions here.