WHS Manager: Career profile

In the dim dark days before the advent of Work Health & Safety professionals, improving business profitability and worker welfare were often at odds. But, when they simultaneously save dollars and lives, what's not to love about your WHS Manager.

In smart work culture, safety is a core value which makes WHS a hi-vis career choice.

Meet a WHS Manager

OHS Manager

Libby Williams, 36, is Senior Health, Safety & Environmental Business Partner at a leading energy supplier. When she's not peddling safety she's treadling safely, being a keen road cyclist. Libby's also arguably Australia's most romantic WHS Manager as a qualified marriage celebrant who's wed 30 couples.

Describe your job in a sentence.

Leading the business to provide a safe, healthy and environmentally-sound workplace for all.

What education & training do you have?

How has this training helped your WHS career?

It has given me such a great framework. I know what to look for, how to access information & work through complexities to get results.

Every year I attend different WHS courses specifically related to needs. It might be around changes in laws like Work Health & Safety Harmonisation or just recently I did a course on roof safety and working at heights.

Every new bit of learning helps me improve things. I just love it. I feel so energised when I pick up information that can be applied to help make people safer.

When I first started it was a challenge just to get people to wear hi-vis gear.

Libby

What skills do you most need as a WHS Manager?

You need to like people, value them equally and be able to establish rapport quickly working at all organisational levels.

You need to enjoy solving problems and be able to develop practical solutions as well as preventative strategies.

My health care background particularly has made me a stickler for documentation which is really, really important in this field because it's the data that you gather that allows you to do something useful.

Seeing needless injury and illness, I thought I want to be at the before-end of this and actually prevent this from happening rather than mopping up the blood afterwards.

Libby

What's the most challenging part of the job?

When I started out it was just getting people to wear hi-vis gear, but there has been a huge change in work safety culture and people look out for each other. But there's still a long way to go. We are still killing people and injuring them.

The challenge is to keep making inroads on those statistics through good policy & preventative strategies. For example, by working through all the protocols, streamlining procedure, checking software and establishing a schedule for equipment testing, I helped reduce the worrying incidence of acoustic shocks (hearing a loud, unexpected noise via telephone headset) experienced by our call centre workers to zero.

Take us on a mental road trip through your WHS career?

Having started my career in hospitals and community-based therapy, I moved into workplace rehabilitation. There I experienced seeing needless injury and illness and thought, I want to be at the before-end of this to actually prevent this from happening rather than mopping up the blood afterwards.

That's where I am today.

What advice would you give an aspiring WHS Manager?

Get involved with the Health and Safety Committee at your workplace. This will give you a good idea how health and safety applies to your work organisation & industry.

October is “Safe Work Australia Week” and there are lots of expos held. It's a great chance to talk to people face to face. www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/sites/SWA has links to all State and Territory WorkCover & WorkSafe authorities.

Browse the full range of WHS courses