About the OHS Body of Knowledge

The OHS Body of Knowledge for Generalist OHS Professionals (OHS BoK) was developed in response to an identified need to define the collective knowledge that should be shared by Australian Generalist OHS Professionals as a basis for understanding the causation and control of work-related fatality, injury, disease and ill-health.

With reference to key papers, each chapter of the OHS BoK gives a synoptic overview of a concept, its development and its application to understanding the causation and control of work-related fatality, injury, disease and ill-health (FIDI).

The Body of Knowledge is not a textbook detailing all that the OHS professional needs to know; rather, it takes conceptual approach, providing a ‘picture’ of current thinking that highlights they key concepts and how thinking on these evolved.

The importance of a defined body of knowledge for a profession is highlighted in the definition of a profession:

“A profession is a disciplined group of individuals who adhere to ethical standards and who hold themselves out as, and are accepted by the public as possessing special knowledge and skills in a widely recognised body of learning derived from research, education and training at a high level, and who are prepared to apply this knowledge and exercise these skills in the interest of others” [emphasis added] (Professions Australia, 1997).

At its core, the OHS BoK adopts a conceptual approach. Since concepts can be abstract, they are organised within a comprehensive framework to address workplace challenges effectively.

The fundamental premise of the OHS BoK “Work impacts on the safety and health of humans who work in organisations. Organisations are influenced by the socio-political context. Organisations may be considered a system that may contain hazards that must be under control to minimise risk. This can be achieved by understanding models of causation for safety and health which will improve the safety and health of people at work. The OHS professional applies professional practice to influence the organisation to bring about this improvement.” 

Chapter 1.3: Synopsis of the OHS Body of Knowledge

Engaging with the OHS BoK is not about linear reading from the first chapter to the last; it’s not a textbook. It’s about interaction and integration of knowledge. Just as managing safety in the workplace involves navigating complex, interrelated factors, using the OHS BoK involves synthesising various concepts to formulate solutions, answer questions, or develop strategies.

This resource is designed to be a tool for thought and action, enabling OHS professionals to influence their organisations and promote safer, healthier workplaces.

Australian Institute of Health & Safety

Having funded the first edition of the OHS Body of Knowledge, WorkSafe Victoria assigned the copyright to the Safety Institute of Australia. The Australian Institute of Health & Safety (AIHS) now ‘owns’ the publication and supports its ongoing maintenance and development to ensure it reflects current OHS research and practice. The OHS Body of Knowledge is the foundation of the AIHS Capability Agenda

Manager OHS BoK


With a military background and qualifications in education and OHS, Marilyn specialises in activities around OHS capability and related aspects of OHS training and competency. In her current role as Manager OHS Body of Knowledge Marilyn focuses on the ongoing maintenance and further development of the OHS Body of Knowledge and associated resources.

OHS BoK Advisory Panel

The role of the OHS Body of Knowledge Advisory Panel is to provide high level oversight of the OHS Body of Knowledge to ensure that it is fit-for-purpose in defining the ‘special knowledge’ that underpins OHS professional education and continuing professional development. Panel membership includes OHS professionals, OHS academics and OHS educators.

OHS Accreditation Board

The Australian OHS Education Accreditation Board has role in ensuring that the priorities for new chapters and the review schedule for existing chapters takes account of priority topics for OHS education and monitoring and providing feedback so that the quality and evidence-base in individual chapters reflects current OHS research and leading edge thinking and so provides a suitable standard for OHS education.

Funding for the OHS Body of Knowledge

Organisations or individuals wishing to discuss support for the OHS Body of Knowledge should contact the Manager OHS Body of Knowledge manager@ohsbok.org.au 

AIHS Corporate Membership

Organisations that become corporate members of the AIHS may choose to direct all or part of their support to the OHS Body of Knowledge. Information on AIHS corporate membership.

Organisational support

Organisations including companies, regulators, universities and others may choose to support development of a specific chapter of the OHS Body of Knowledge. Information on corporate support for OHS BoK.

Support through an Enforceable Undertaking

OHS legislation in most Australian states allows for Enforceable Undertakings as remedies for certain types of legislative breaches. Information on Enforceable Undertakings as support for OHS BOK.