Graduates Naomi Kemp and Sarah Brisbane received the inaugural BOHSSc degrees with Honours at a UQ ceremony on 6 December.
They are already putting their skills into practice in their new workplaces.
Work-related accidents have killed 155 people in Australia in 2013, and work-related injury and illness are estimated the cost to Australian industry more than $60 billion a year.
Preventing workplace deaths and injuries will be a key part of Ms Kemp’s new role as a Senior Advisor in Enforceable Undertakings with Workplace Health and Safety Queensland.
Ms Kemp said she chose to enroll in the degree after taking on occupational health and safety roles in a Mt Isa metallurgical laboratory.
“When I relocated to Brisbane from Mt Isa in 2009 I found the program was being offered for the first time,” she said.
“I knew straight away it was for me as it had an appealing diversity of courses and electives and was really challenging.
“My career goal is to be in a managerial position either in the public or private sector which provides strategic occupational health and safety governance,” she said.
Fellow graduate Sarah Brisbane is already working as a Safety Advisor in the Copper Operations division for Glencore Xstrata Mine in her home town of Mt Isa.
Ms Brisbane said she was attracted to the BOHSSc program by the strong science focus and industry interaction.
“The academic staff ensured that students were well prepared for a variety of workplaces and there were many opportunities to obtain vacation employment in industry,” said Ms Brisbane.
“My interests lie in making underground or open cut mining workplaces safer and I was delighted to be offered my current position at Xstrata even before I’d graduated,” she said.
Program Director Professor Mike Capra congratulated Ms Kemp and Ms Brisbane.
“This program has been developed in collaboration with industry to provide opportunities for students to receive mentoring, scholarships and internships in addition to their classroom theory and practical lessons,” Professor Capra said.
“On completion, they are job ready with strong scientific and analytical skills and are highly sought after by the employers with whom they have had contact during their studies.”
“Naomi and Sarah are the first graduates from this program to enter the workforce where they can make a real difference by introducing better controls for risk and making workplaces safer for employees,” he said.
Media contact: Jackie Mergard, Faculty of Science, The University of Queensland, 07 3365 3634 or 0435090802