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:
- Development and publication of the OHS Body of Knowledge;
- Accreditation of OHS professional education; and
- Certification of Generalist OHS Professionals/Practitioners.
All of these key deliverables are now in place and Certification is available to all OHS Professionals/Practitioners nationally. A Governance committee is responsible for refining the program and for the ongoing maintenance of standards within it. A panel of assessors conduct assessments managed through the Institute's administration.
How does the certification process work?
Certification involves a capability assessment, which allows the candidate to demonstrate that their mix of knowledge and experience is reflected in capable work performance at the level they are seeking to be certified. The capability assessment varies for each level of certification, but generally involves the completion of reports, referee checks, and sometimes interviews. All applicants must successfully complete the capability assessment to be certified.
What are the entry criteria?
To be eligible to enter the Certification assessment process, candidates must meet the specific minimum experience requirements and minimum education requirements for the level they are seeking to be certified. Generally, a lot of one (education or experience) does not offset a lack of the other, however we do apply some flexibilities for highly experienced people, through programs such as our knowledge assessment in lieu of education content.
How does certification affect the past SIA grading system (Chartered Fellow, Fellow, and CPMSIA) ?
Eligibility for Certification categories is different to the grading system used until the end of 2014. Members graded under the past system are still recognised as having achieved their gradings of Chartered Professional member of the SIA (CPMSIA) Fellow of the SIA (FSIA) and Chartered Fellow of the SIA (CFSIA). However these are not certifications and so are not promoted as part of the program.
Current Fellows and Chartered Fellows of the SIA
The award of Fellow or Chartered Fellow remains as a recognition of status within the Institute, but is not a certification. The College of Fellows remains an important part of the Safety Institute of Australia. Fellows of the Institute have an ongoing role in providing expertise and advice to the SIA, and are an important SIA network. Fellows and Chartered Fellows who wish to seek Certification can do so, and can carry both the Fellow post nominal, as well as their new Certification post-nominal.
Current Chartered Professional Members of the SIA
CPMSIAs retain their status and post nominal as a CPMSIA. They are urged to seek Certification.