Amanda Holland provides expert OH&S guidance to VisAbility WA

VisAbility logo

“I enjoyed the experience of looking into how another organisation functions and the risks that they are faced with. It was great to help another organisation, especially in an area where it added value for them.”

Amanda Holland, Woodside Volunteer

VisAbility is a leading provider of disability services specialising in supporting people who are blind or vision impaired. Formerly the Association for the Blind of WA, VisAbility has provided innovative, life-changing services to West Australians for more than 100 years.

Visability WA provides a wide range of services to their clients across a range of ages and disabilities in their homes, at school, at work and in the community. They focus on achieving outcomes, promoting mobility and independence, and improving each person’s quality of life. Guide Dogs WA, which provides life-changing independence through the gift of a Guide Dog, is owned and operated by VisAbility.

 VisAbility WA’s wide range of services all vary in OH&S risk factors. It is therefore vital for the organisation to stay informed with the current OH&S legislation. Last year the WA government tabled a bill proposing that the jurisdiction be adapted to fit with the Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws developed by Safe Work Australia. This proposal raised concern within many volunteer involving organisations as the possible changes were not explained in terms of how it would impact them. As a result, VisAbility requested support with interpreting the potential changes and the changes (if any) VisAbility would need to implement to comply.

“We will be able to focus our attention on any improvements that need to be made and not have to spend time conducting a review ourselves. This has saved us time and money.”

Nevellene Linquist, VisAbility

Through Volunteer WA and Woodside’s Skills-based volunteering program, Amanda Holland who holds 14 years of experience in Occupational Health and Safety, spanning across a wide range of industries, was able to offer her expertise to VisAbility. Amanda wasted no time and quickly set up a meeting to conduct a site visit. The site visit included a discussion of good practices in relation to a variety of areas, including: drill training for the kitchen premises; electrical inspections; worker and volunteer inductions; and, building design principles for visually impaired clients. Amanda put a report together that tabled the hazards, current controls and recommendations for how to reduce risk. In addition to this, Amanda summarised the nationally harmonised work health and safety legislation using definitions and examples applicable to VisAbility.

Final report

By the completion of the project, Amanda produced a report of a high standard, and provided VisAbility with a succinct, yet detailed document to help guide the organisation to best OH&S practice. Nevellene Linquist, VisAbility HR Manager, stated, “The project has delivered a high quality report following a review of the Work Health and Safety Act and Regulations so that if the legislation is passed in Western Australia, VisAbility can prepare a plan to achieve compliance.” Amanda felt that the project gave her a sense of confidence to know that she could assist another organisation with safety-related issues outside her normal work environment. Amanda would recommend this to other Woodside volunteers as a way of expanding your professional experiences.