What it means to be an OHS professional

What it means to be an OHS professional

The late George Robotham’s very popular, 100 page, FREE E-BOOK – download his others here


If you want a good chuckle then you will also appreciate this little poem “ODE TO THE SAFETY PROFESSIONAL”

Download George’s 3rd Ebook Here


Image thanks to SJ from Riskology



In this e book I have reflected on my experiences in OHS over many years and tried to explain what OHS means to me. I have included some comment from other OHS people about what OHS means to them. General comment is given on what being an OHS person is all about. I briefly mention some of what I think are the more important skills for OHS people and give some advice on managing an OHS career. I finish with my vision for what excellent OHS in Australia would look like.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction4
  2. OHS Important Concepts
  3. Why “do” OHS
  4. What OHS means to me Personally
  5. What OHS means to Other OHS People
  6. 30 Ways to Stuff up a Safety Management System
  7. 20 Sure-Fire Ways to Stuff-up a Learning Program
  8. Doing the Impossible as an OHS Person
  9. What OHS People do
  10. Prerequisites for the OHS Person
  11. Starting Out in Safety
  12. Suggested Myths and Misconceptions
  13. Safety Culture and How to Improve it
  14. Should Cost Affect How you Control Risk in your Workplace
  15. Advice to New OHS People
  16. 25 Factors for Personal Success
  17. Why OHS People are less Successful than we Hope
  18. Why OHS People become Cynics
  19. OHS Skills
  20. Skills of the Excellent OHS Professional
  21. Learning Needs Analysis
  22. Learning Revolution
  23. What the OHS Professional can do to Improve Leadership
  24. The 15 Most Common Mistakes OHS People make
  25. Personal Characteristics of Safety People
  26. Critical Incident Recall Discussion Paper
  27. The Blame Game
  28. Safe Working Procedures
  29. Practical Tips for Learning Facilitation
  30. Job Safety Analysis
  31. Personal Damage Occurrence (accident) Investigation
  32. Communication Skills
  33. Interpersonal Skills
  34. Tool Box Meetings
  35. Teambuilding in OHS
  36. Managing Your OHS Career
  37. Resumes
  38. The Interview
  39. Recruitment Consultants
  40. Other General Stuff
  41. Professional Associations
  42. Reflective Journal
  43. Trust and Betrayal in the Workplace
  44. OHS Learning for the OHS Person
  45. Beaurocracy and Paperwork in OHS
  46. The 10 Commandments for the OHS person
  47. How OHS People can maintain their Motivation
  48. The Lessons Learnt
  49. Colin Powell on Leadership
  50. My Vision
  51. Conclusion



Other than stints in the Australian Regular Army as a surveyor and the Army Reserve as a truck driver and infantry soldier I have spent the majority of my working life in field, corporate, project and consultant OHS roles. In my nearly 4 decades in OHS I have worked in open-cut mining, underground mining, construction, manufacturing, disability services, education, office environments and a few other industries.

Brisbane based OHS consultant, Geoff McDonald, has been my mentor, coach and guide for most of my safety career. I value his safety work much higher than any other I have seen. Geoff has had a profound effect on how I view and approach safety.

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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