Moving Up in WHS with Qualifications That Match Experience

Work health and safety (WHS) professional, and safety auditing consultant, Caitlin Seaha recently achieved an Advanced Diploma of Work Health and Safety, and a Diploma of Quality Auditing through Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).

In the following story, Caitlin discusses her 15-year WHS career, setting up her own consultancy, achieving a higher level and unexpected bonus qualification, and her A+ process of gathering work examples for RPL.

Listen to Caitlin’s story on our Podcast: The Churchill Experience

Caitlin’s WHS Career Story

Caitlin’s Work Health and Safety (WHS) career began 15 years ago. After finishing high school, Caitlin commenced a fly-in-fly-out (FIFO) safety administration position in the mining industry. “I slowly worked my way up from there,” she said.

Four years later, now as a Health and Safety Advisor, Caitlin returned to Brisbane to have a break from FIFO. She worked in a number of different consulting roles for specialist firms, and also internal roles as a WHS advisor and manager.

For the past two years Caitlin has worked for Urban Utilities as a Health, Safety, and Wellbeing Industry Safety Specialist.

New Beginnings – Independent WHS Consulting

Recently, Caitlin has taken the leap to set up her own consulting business – Seaha Safety Solutions. She specialises in:

  • Safety Management System Development
  • 45001 Compliance
  • Specialist Safety Support

Working for herself will allow Caitlin greater flexibility for the needs of a young family, more time for professional development, and the capacity to focus on the specialist work she enjoys most – safety auditing.

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)

Caitlin’s colleague Peter Gould recommended she contact Churchill Education for recognition of prior learning (RPL) as he knew that she wanted to upgrade her qualifications.

Peter is a Churchill Alumni, who also went through the process of turning his experience into qualifications with RPL.

“Peter suggested I look at my RPL options, because these days any management-level WHS role requires a diploma as a minimum requirement. Even if you have 15 years of experience; without that qualification, you don’t get a look in,” she shared.

Although Caitlin holds a Certificate IV in Work Health & Safety, a Bachelor of Business (Human Resources), and a range of other diplomas, it was specifically the Diploma of Work Health & Safety that she required, to move up in her career.

The RPL Process

Caitlin took Peter’s advice and got in touch with Churchill Education to explore her RPL eligibility through a free qualification appraisal.

Find out what you are eligible for

Caitlin worked with Sarah, her Churchill advisor and single point of contact.

“I was initially enquiring about the Diploma, but when we had a chat about my career and my plan to do independent consulting, Sarah suggested I try for the Advanced Diploma of WHS.”

Sarah sent Caitlin the evidence list she would need to provide to prove her eligibility through RPL.

“When I started going through all the criteria, it only took me a few days here and there to put all the information together. I actually found it quite easy as I’m an organised person. I found work examples in my emails and then saved them into the evidence folder*,” she explained.

*As part of our free qualification appraisal process, we provide all applicants with their own private, confidential and secure evidence portfolio where documents can be uploaded directly.

A+ WHS Evidence Portfolio

Caitlin’s RPL eligibility was appraised by Churchill RPL assessor, Jacob, who described Caitlin’s evidence portfolio as ‘exemplary’.

Based on the evidence Caitlin provided, she was indeed eligible for BSB60619 Advanced Diploma of Work Health and Safety.

AND Jacob also deemed her eligible for BSB50920 Diploma Of Quality Auditing.

Going through the evidence gathering process is where many RPL applicants get stuck. It can seem like a difficult and overwhelming task, and it’s not always easy to know where to look.

Getting Unstuck: Gathering Workplace Examples for RPL

Tricia and Randall talking in front of coffee machine

So how did Caitlin get an A+ and gold stars for hers?!

I’m a bit of a nerd! I looked at the questions you were asking me, then categorised them into different topics, created a subfolder within the evidence portfolio for each, then looked through my emails for evidence on each topic.

I also thought about what each question was looking for, brainstormed some ideas of things I have worked on and wrote a few dot points for each.

I started with the easy ones that I knew I had evidence for, then worked on the others across a few days, doing a couple a day,” she explained.

Caitlin also wrote a response document addressing each question, so that the assessor would understand the significance of each item of evidence and the project it connected to.

Reward for effort

Based on the thorough evidence that Caitlin provided, she was not only deemed eligible for the Advanced Diploma of Work Health and Safety, but also the Diploma of Quality Auditing.

“It was so unexpected,” she shared.

“I honestly thought you’d tell me that I still needed to provide more information and was prepared to spend another few weeks or so working on my responses! The diploma of quality auditing was a happy surprise!”

The changing WHS industry

We asked Caitlin what changes she’s noticed in the WHS industry during her time:

“It has definitely been a male-dominated industry because historically safety advisors tend to be former tradespeople, but that’s not so much the case anymore.

There’s more of a focus on safety theory and more professionally educated safety people that are coming into the industry.

I’ve found there to be an increased focused on system-based work around policies, document writing and leadership, allowing more roles for people who have not come up “on the tools”.

I think we’ll see a lot more women in managerial WHS positions over the next 5-10 years too,” she shared.

Caitlin’s Future Career Goals

In the short to medium term, while Caitlin’s children are young, she plans to focus on growing her safety auditing consultancy and professional development. In the medium to long term Caitlin would like to work at a senior leadership level in a large organisation.

Advice for others

“Look at your RPL options. You’ve got nothing to lose because the initial appraisal is free, and the process from there was much easier than I was anticipating.

The appraisal really built my confidence, before committing any of the household budget.”

If you would like to find out what qualifications you are eligible for, you can arrange a free qualification appraisal via any of the contact options listed below. 

EOFY Bonus!

When you enrol and pay for qualifications during June, you will also receive the Churchill EOFY Bonus (valued at $700)!

Turn your career experience into qualifications with Recognition of Prior Learning.  Apply for a free assessment today!

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