VSS Faculty Interview with Darko Palacic, PhD
Please briefly introduce yourself and your current position.
Darko Palačić, PhD, former student of the College of Occupational Safety and Health, graduate engineer and a holder of a Master in Security, Master in Information Sciences, Doctor of Occupational Safety, Lead Risk Manager, Certified Corporate Security Manager, Lead auditor for QEOHS and a holder of other acquired certificates, authorizations and trainings . My area of interests are safety and risk management systems where I deal with consulting and auditing activities and jobs for users of services of various magnifiers and activities, as well as several certification bodies. I am the owner and director of the consulting company PhD Consultor, and in addition I am the manager of the private security sector in the company ALZAS ALARMS. I have conducted various research and published in more than 120 scientific journals and professional papers in the field of safety and risk management systems. I lecture and supervise numerous trainings and workshops in the field of security, risk management, as well as management systems in general.
What is your field of expertise and what do you teach at VSS?
My areas of specialization are international standards for safety and risk management systems, which implies many years of theoretical and practical experience in the introduction of these management systems in companies of various industries. A special segment in this is the management of health and safety at work and risk management assessment. In addition to the above, I have been working in the private security and detective work sector for many years. At the college, I teach Security Management Systems, Private Protection and Protection of People and Property.
Why do you think Occupational Health and Safety is important, especially in organizations?
An effective implementation of occupational safety is the basis for creating safe working conditions in all business processes within any organization. This is especially important in primary business processes that directly create a new value. Occupational safety is a secondary business process, as well as it concerns processes that support and create conditions for the normal functioning of primary processes. Therefore, in modern business it is unrealistic to conduct primary business activities without ensuring high levels of safety at work. Therefore, safety at work is rightly considered to be an integral part of any organization and the performance of work procedures. Practice shows that investing in occupational safety and building a health and safety management system in organizations achieves more effective occupational safety as well as it creates a systematic improvement of safety and health, protection of workers, prevention of injuries at work, occupational diseases and related diseases.
Which job positions in the field of Occupational Health and Safety are highly in demand?
Anyone looking for a job desires to find a job with good terms, such as a good salary, extra benefits and similar. If you want to work in occupational safety, you need to possess good knowledge of regulations, but also additional competencies. Safety at work is based on regulations, and you can only know them if you read them. Very often, jobs in occupational safety require additional competencies in fire protection (passed professional exam). In addition to the above, environmental competencies are sometimes required. Why is this so and what does it depend on? First of all, it depends on the size and complexity of the organization announcing the job vacancy. Similarly, in smaller organizations, the practice is that professional tasks of occupational safety, fire protection and environmental protection are performed by one person. However, in larger organizations where there are departments for each area, job openings are announced for each type of expertise separately. In addition, there are employment opportunities in organizations that are authorized to perform occupational safety, or that offer such services in the market.
What advice would you give to VSS students (current/future students)?
Regardless of whether you are a full-time or part-time student, what your financial situation is, what your personal circumstances are, what kind of support you have or the lack of it, studying is a demanding process that requires a lot of effort. In this process, you depend most on yourself, on your attitude, on your approach, will and motivation. Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years? What are you doing then? What position do you see yourself in? What do you want to achieve on a professional and private level? If you take a bow and arrow in your hands and you don’t know what the target is, everything that runs around will seem like a good target. That way you are just scattering your energy on unimportant and unnecessary things. See where you are and what you are. Define your goals! Determine what you need to do and achieve, what are the necessary steps along the way that need to be overcome to reach your goals. Define within what deadlines you will stop some of the steps and thus define when you will reach the goal. You have no goals? Think about what you would like to achieve and set goals and head towards them.
Along the way, you will encounter numerous obstacles. It is all a process of your growth and development. This is in a way expected. Be persistent. That is why I can only repeat the words of Winston Churchill to all present and future students: “Never! Never! Never! Never give up.”.
How can VSS benefit to students and their future employability?
The university degree specifically contributes to the development and acquisition of knowledge and competencies of its students. Each course, each topic within the course is an opportunity that students should use to acquire new knowledge and strengthen their competencies. In addition, VSS provides its students with the opportunity to network, connect, collaborate with each other and learn how to work in a team. All of the above is a direct contribution of the university degree to students and their employment opportunities.
Is there any specific situation/ experience that you would highlight where Occupational Health and Safety turned out to be of high significance?
Given my many years of practice in occupational safety, I have had the opportunity to visit and collaborate with various companies. The cooperation also included the control and supervision of their processes and occupational safety systems. In practice, I have seen fantastic safety solutions as well as complete neglect of safety at work. I had the opportunity to see the implementation of safety at work in the mine, on the oil well, in the process industry, shipbuilding, forestry, construction, food industry, metalworking, retail, office work, etc. Looking back the only thing I can conclude is that safety at work is extremely important in every workplace, for every worker. Every life is equally important. Of course, there are jobs where the risks become extremely high and those where the risks are smaller. However, I had the opportunity to analyze a case in which a worker who performed administrative work in the office suffered an injury in which her finger was amputated. I also analyzed the case in which a worker who usually performs work at heights (transmission line poles) slipped on the first rung of a ladder with the help of climbing equipment, and fell to the side and broke his collarbone. A worker may be injured while performing any work. Therefore, safety at work is extremely important when performing any job.