Developing and implementing the Core Body of Knowledge for the OHS professional - Third Project Report

Monday, 6 July, 2009 - 10:00
Industry news

To all SIA Members and OHS academics and researchers

The Body of Knowledge project for the OHS Professional formally began in June 2009 with WorkSafe Victoria providing funding of $390 000. An outline of the project and the management of the project is given in the briefing paper (PDF, 41Kb) available on the SIA OHS Education Chapter web site. Progress reports were circulated to members of the SIA in August and September 2009.

October and November was the initial data gathering phase for the project with all providers of OHS professional education asked to provide information on their course content. Information was also sourced from OHS professional bodies including SIA, IOSH, ASSE, the US Board of Certified Safety Professionals, Safe Work Australia and the World Health Organisation. Research information was accessed including the ALTC study "Safeguarding Australians: Mapping the strengths and challenges toward sustainable improvements in OHS education and practice" and the Australian and international project coordinated by Professor Andrew Hale on what OHS professional do.   

The Technical Panel analysed this information through two one-day workshops in November and then "tested" the interim outcomes with the SIA College of Fellows Professional Reference Group convened for the purpose. This professional reference group provided the Technical Panel with a fresh view of the analysis and acted as a ‘touchstone' with the profession. Based on this analysis and input, a paper was written outlining the process and the draft body of knowledge to date. This document can be viewed on the SIA Education web page (PDF, 345Kb).

Approximately 80 university-based OHS educators, OHS professionals and HASPA representatives were invited to attend a two-day forum where the process for defining the OHS Body of Knowledge and the outcomes to date were presented. Approximately 40 educators and professionals from all Australian states and from New Zealand attended the forum and actively participated in the discussion and provided valuable input.

The forum exceeded the expectations of the Technical Panel in the positive and supportive atmosphere, the level of intellectual support for the process and approach taken by the Technical Panel and of the outcomes date. The discussion on Day 2 of the forum added refinements to the core concepts; assisted in defining the structure and presentation of the Body of Knowledge; and so defined the future direction for the work of the Technical Panel. During March and April the Technical Panel will be finalising the first draft of the structure of the OHS Body of Knowledge and arranging the writing of same sample chapters in preparation for broad consultation with OHS professionals, employers, regulators, professional associations and others.

The consultation process will have a number of components:

  • Two presentations on Day 2 of Safety in Action will review the process and outcomes to date, including the outcomes of the February forum, and provide an opportunity for input.
  • On-line surveys will provide opportunity for input from a broad range of OHS professionals. Input through the surveys will be open to all SIA members at CPMSIA, FSIA and CFSIA and professional members of other OHS professional bodies.
  • Targeted interviews will be held with representatives of employer bodies, union bodies, regulators, recruiters and OHS professional associations.
  • Focus groups will be held with selected OHS professionals.

Following this consultation the draft Body of Knowledge for OHS professionals will be prepared for a further round of comment and feedback. As always, anybody make have their input at any time via the SIA OHS Education Chapter discussion forum.

One of the items discussed at the February Forum was the need for a common language and accepted terminology. Given the variety of current usage and interests this will not be an easy task for the profession. The Body of Knowledge Technical Panel has access to a draft glossary developed some time ago but not validated or endorsed. Once access is established for a suitable on-line input process this glossary will be posted for discussion and input.


Pam Pryor FSIA
Chair, OHS Body of Knowledge Technical Panel