Advice to people wishing to commence a career in OHS

Advice to people wishing to commence a career in OHS

Young engineer with pensive face and security helmet Another classic by the late George Robotham


Cannot get the job without the experience, cannot get the experience without the job. This is a common problem all new starters to the OHS industry face. You must learn how to overcome the challenges.

Some advice

  • Get yourself a motto to guide your OHS work, better still if you can develop a graphic to illustrate the motto.
  • Identify any skills and experience you do have and how these could be applied to OHS – training skills, project management, negotiation, quality, auditing- highlight these rather than any lack of direct safety skills/experience
  • Get yourself some work experience in OHS to develop your skills and help you decide if you like it.
  • Get a really good resume. I get stubbie money writing resumes for people and it never ceases to amaze me how crappy the original resumes that I see are.
  • Talk about your achievements on your resume.
  • Learn how to manage job interviews.
  • Get yourself a practical mentor
  • Register your resume with the various safety search companies. Sometimes they will recruit from their files instead of advertising.
  • Be a lifelong learner and be prepared to prove acquisition of OHS technical skills as well as broader management skills. Leadership, communications and interpersonal skills are very important.
  • The ideal is to get a start with an organisation that has an OHS Graduate or Trainee scheme, unfortunately such opportunities are rare.
  • It pays to network with other OHS personnel as much as possible, Linkedin OHS forums and professional associations come to mind.
  • Get at least a Cert IV in safety and a Cert IV T.A.E., many employers will see this as basic qualifications, realise these are just learner permits.
  • Recognise the best jobs go to those with tertiary safety qualifications
  • Develop a highly advanced bull-dust detector, by the hell you will need it
  • Accept the fact that recruitment consultants will frequently stuff you around
  • Seek seems to be a good source of advertised safety jobs, Byron employment is worth a look, Logo has local government jobs plus look on the state and federal government job web sites. University job searches may help.
  • Be positive and upbeat despite any setbacks. Maintaining a sense of humour is essential


Obtaining an OHS role is quite competitive but the points above may ease the path.

Download George’s free Ebook

Guidance For The Beginning OHS Professional

George Robotham

George Robotham

George was a Legend in the Safety World who passed away in Sept 2013 but left us with a great legacy
George Robotham
I have worked in OHS for most of my working life, many years in the mining industry including over 10 years in a corporate OHS role with BHP. Since leaving the mining industry I have worked in a variety of safety roles with a variety of employers, large & small, in a variety of industries. I was associated with my first workplace fatality at age 21, the girl involved was young, intelligent, vivacious and friendly. Such a waste! I was the first on the scene and tried to comfort her and tend to her injuries. She said to me “George, please do not let me die” We put her on the aerial ambulance to Rockhampton base hospital where she died the next day. I do not mind telling you that knocked me around for awhile. Since then I have helped my employers cope with the aftermath of 12 fatalities and 2 other life-altering events. The section "Why do Occupational Health & Safety" provides further detail but in summary, poor safety is simply very expensive and also has a massive humanitarian cost. My qualifications include a certificate I.V. in Workplace Training and Assessment, a Diploma in Frontline Management, a Diploma in Training & Assessment Systems, a Bachelor of Education (Adult & Workplace Education) , a Grad. Cert. in Management of Organisational Change and a Graduate Diploma in Occupational Hazard Management. I am currently studying towards a Masters in Business Leadership. Up until recently I had been a Chartered Fellow of the Safety Institute of Australia for 10 years and a member for about 30 years. My interest is in non-traditional methods of driving organisational change in OHS and I have what I believe is a healthy dis-respect for many common approaches to OHS Management and OHS Training. I hold what I believe is a well-founded perception that many of the things safety people and management do in safety are “displacement activities” (Displacement activities are things we do, things we put a lot of energy into, but which when we examine them closely there is no valid reason for doing them). My managerial and leadership roles in OHS have exposed me to a range of management techniques that are relevant to Business Improvement. In particular I am a strong supporter of continuous improvement and quality management approaches to business. I believe leadership is the often forgotten key to excellence in most aspects of life. I hold the Australian Defence Medal and am a J.P.(Qualified). I have many fond memories of my time playing Rugby Union when I was a young bloke.

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