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Certification of occupational health and safety professionals: A comparison

Mustafa, Munauwar and Hasan, Hasnizam and Abd Aziz, Fadzli Shah and Ooi, Yeng Keat and Ghazali, Zahiruddin (2009) Certification of occupational health and safety professionals: A comparison. In: Seminar Antarabangsa Pendidikan ICT Bernuansa Islami, 19-20 Disember 2009, Banda Acheh, Indonesia. (Unpublished)

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The introduction of Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994 and its Regulations has come closer to achieving its objectives. Over the years, various strategies have been adopted and implemented at the national level to reduce the number of occupational accidents. One of the strategies is the training and development of competent health and safety professionals. Official job title for a person who is given the responsibility, authority and accountability to promote hazard-free working environments in his/her organization differs from one country to the other. In this paper, the term ‘health and safety professionals’ (H&S professionals) will be used to denote those who have an appropriate qualification and professional experience in the field of occupational health and safety, and possess a certificate of registration from health and safety professional body. The term ‘professionals’ instead of ‘practitioners’ or ‘officers’ is chosen to acknowledge worldwide efforts by professional bodies in various countries to develop occupational health and safety as a profession. In this paper, we examined certification requirements for a few major professions before zooming in to discuss qualification requirements and methods of assessment for the UK, the US and Malaysia. Apparently, the requirements for the registration of H&S professionals in Malaysia are very minimal, lacked of details, and based on wrong assumptions about competence and professionalism. For example, by allowing those with a Diploma in Occupational Safety and Health to be registered as competent practitioners without having to gain valuable experience by working in the area of H&S, the policy assumes that qualification is equated to competence. This assumption is clearly against the arguments of Hedlund et al. (2003, p.121), Cheetham and Chivers (1998), and Schon (1983, p.51) about types of knowledge that are largely acquired through one’s work experience such as tacit, procedural, and contextual knowledge. Another example, by requiring applicants to attend the two-week training course in H&S, the policy is against one of the pillar characteristics of a profession i.e. a specialized training or education of exceptional duration and perhaps of exceptional difficulty to acquire the high degree of generalised and systematic knowledge and skills [Gerstl and Hutton (1966, p.4), Leggatt (1970, 155), Moore (1970, p.5), and Pletta (1984, p.16)]. Furthermore, by taking only the number of years of work experience into consideration, aspects of learning from experience are not being assessed at all. Therefore, we believe that the process of registering and re-registering of H&S professionals should be examined and improved by making use of experiences from other countries and suggestions from practicing H&S professionals in Malaysia.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Additional Information: Anjuran bersama Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) dan Universitas Syiah Kuala (Unsyiah)
Uncontrolled Keywords: management, human resource management, occupational safety and health, safety and health officer, training, professionals development, competence, competency
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Divisions: School of Business Management
Depositing User: Mrs. Juwita Johari
Date Deposited: 02 Mar 2011 06:11
Last Modified: 30 May 2016 02:33
URI: http://repo.uum.edu.my/id/eprint/2626

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