A critical assessment of the Australian OHS accreditation system's "Body of Knowledge (BoK)"

Paul, Gunther & Pearse, Warwick (2013) A critical assessment of the Australian OHS accreditation system's "Body of Knowledge (BoK)". In Antonovsky, Ari (Ed.) HFESA 49th Annual Conference 2013 : The Right Balance, 2-4 December 2013, University Club of Western Australia, Perth, WA.

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In response to an increasing perception of poor OHS consultancy quality amongst the Australian public, regulator and OHS professionals, the Safety Institute Australia (SIA) was tasked by the Victorian government to establish an accreditation process for OHS professionals. The OHS accreditation board decided to base its accreditation on a core "body of knowledge" (BoK), against which applicants are assesssed. While the foundation and structure of the BoK is unclear, the BoK consists of a collection of essays from a variety of invited authors. The BoK comprises about 811 pages in 34 chapters, with significant redundancy and considerable subjective components.

The SIA BoK is benchmarked against two international best-practices, the German "Core Definition, Object Catalog and Research Domains of Labour Science (Ergonomics)" (Luzcak, Volpert, Raeithel & Schwier, 1989)(100 pages) and the American "Core Competency Model" for the "Master's Degree in Public Health" (Association of Schools of Public Health, 2006) (21 pages). Both "core definition" and "core competency model" are on a comparative level to the BoK.

While the German expert panel consisted of 14 eminent professors, the American panel consisted of 135 members, organized in 6 groups chaired by discipline leading academics. The Australian approach employed a broad approach, where 137 professionals, consultants, emerging academics and academics contributed to 8 workshops. Both the German and the American panels maintained an open communication amongst members and with the discipline community throughout the process, whereas SIA applied an open and directed peer-review process.

Moreover, the German process involved an analysis of all congress content and journal publications in the scientific domain in a set timeframe, which were then systematically clustered. These results were further expanded by structured interviews with 38 professors in the discpline, grasping their research and teaching practice. The American workgroup however assumed core scientific areas, underlying the domain. Based upon the a-priori assumption, they then established well defined competencies across all areas using a modified Delphi process. Although the BoK attempts to explore the knowledge in the OHS domain without an imposed structure in a bottom-up approach, it does not result in a structured systematic of the science.

We conclude that the outcome of the German, rigorous academic approach, and the US American democratic approach under unambiguous academic leadership both outperform the Australian advocacy group approach. This product was determined for both structure and content of the taxonomy delivered through the processes.

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ID Code: 60039
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Occupational Health and Safety, Ergonomics
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700) > Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (111705)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Public Health & Social Work
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2013 Please consult the author
Deposited On: 25 Jul 2013 22:33
Last Modified: 20 May 2014 20:55

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