Heads of safety are increasingly reporting to CEOs and require stronger influencing and stakeholder management skills as a result, according to Julie Honore, managing director of Safesearch.
“Increasingly they are not simply part of the OHS team but part of the executive leadership team,” said Honore.
“There is a strong expectation that OHS leaders have the level of understanding and the ability to address those at Board level.”
While there is a definite appetite among organisations for suitably qualified and experienced OHS professionals, she said there is an increasing requirement for OHS employees to be able to influence and engage their internal and external stakeholders.
“The constant feedback we receive is that the value of formal education is in equipping OHS professionals to develop and demonstrate their technical and commercial abilities along with their softer skills,” she said.
“Where an individual has achieved a track record of success over a significant period, experience alone will be considered by some employers.”
“However, increasingly in the area of safety, employers are showing less flexibility and formal education is viewed as a minimum foundation from which skills and experience are to be developed.”
In addition, she said well-established, competitive organisations see value in integrated business systems incorporating safety environment, quality and employee wellness within a framework of corporate social responsibility and risk management.
The next issue of OHS Professional will feature a cover story on raising the bar in OHS education, with commentary from Honore and other OHS experts and academics.