10 May 2023
Kia ora koutou members and supporters of NZISM.
I want to congratulate Priyanka Garg, on publishing An Exploration of Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Competencies Among General OHS Professionals in New Zealand, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for her degree of Master of Business at Auckland University of Technology. The survey supporting her research was sent to members in 2021, and if you were one of those who engaged in the survey, I encourage you to read the findings.
It is so important that we support our Master’s students by gifting a small amount of time to helping them develop this research for the benefit of us all.
We are often asked why we won’t accept qualifications outside the OHS Generalist knowledge requirements, specifically by those who have qualifications related to OHS specialist disciplines. While we are clear in the Accreditation Committee why this is the case, members really struggle to understand. Thanks to Priyanka, who articulated this perfectly, we have a response which we hope will explain the difference between the Generalist and Specialist disciplines, in a way that demonstrates just because you are a Hygienist, or Occupational Health Nurse etc, this doesn’t equip you to work in the Generalist space.
While the OHS specialists have a high degree of knowledge in a specific discipline to solve specific problems within that domain (Pryor, 2019a), the practice of OHS generalists extend beyond the specific domains of specialist disciplines of OHS (Pryor, 2019b), which make them fit for advisory roles. The HaSPA has defined a generalist OHS professional as: One who applies multidisciplinary body of knowledge in a unique way to provide enterprises with advice on the organisational arrangements that will lead to the systemic and systematic management of OHS to prevent work related fatality, injury, disease and ill-health. (Pryor, 2016, p. 5)
There was much I will take away from her research but, for now, I hope this paragraph has helped provide clarity why the Generalist competency requirements must be met to achieve NZISM accreditation.