Chapter 14: Foundation science

Chapter 14: Foundation Science

Scientific knowledge that could be used to prevent work-related fatality, injury, disease and ill health is often well known long before it is seriously applied. The time is past when prevention of work-related injury and ill health can be considered a matter of ‘common sense.’ There is a science base to understanding how hazards behave, how they cause harm and how the body reacts. This understanding is vital in designing effective control measures. Generalist Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) professionals must embrace this knowledge as part of their professional practice. The breadth and depth of the scientific knowledge required by individual OHS professionals will depend on the industry and hazards where they work and the nature of the advice they provide. How the OHS professional gains this knowledge may vary from school or vocational study to university education or specifically designed bridging programs. This chapter provides science-topic ‘maps’ to assist educators and OHS professionals in identifying the basic science required for professional practice, and also identifies fundamental numeracy requirements.

Keywords: OHS, occupational health and safety, health, science, physical, chemical, biological, health science

First year of publication: 2012

Current Version: 2019

Chapter 14: Foundation science

1 Introduction
2 Historical perspective
3 The approach taken in this chapter
4 Science that underpins OHS practice
4.1 Physical science
4.2 Biological science
5 Numeracy skills for OHS practice
6 Use of the foundation science-topic maps and numeracy skills list
7 Implications for practice
8 Summary

Pam Pryor AO, BSc, BEd, GDipOHM, MAppSci, ChOHSP, CFSIA

Manager OHS Body of Knowledge Development, Australian Institute of Health and Safety

With a background in OHS consulting and OHS education Pam now specialises in activities around OHS capability and related aspects of OHS professionality. She was chair of the Technical Panel that developed the OHS Body of Knowledge and inaugural Registrar of the Australian OHS Education Accreditation Board. Her current role as Manager OHS Body of Knowledge Development focuses on the ongoing maintenance and development of the OHS Body of Knowledge and associated resources. Pam was a key player in the development of the INSHPO Global OHS Capability Framework and received the 2017-18 President’s Award from American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) for this work. Pam received an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2018 for her contribution to OHS through leadership and advisory roles, particularly in developing standards for education frameworks.

Emeritus Professor Mike Capra BSc, MSc, PhD, FSIA

School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Queensland

Mike has held teaching and research positions at eight universities in Australia, Fiji, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. He has taught in areas of biology, physiology, toxicology, research methods, and occupational and environmental health. Mike has been involved in projects in many countries, including Mozambique, Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia. Mike received the Safety Institute of Australia Harold Greenwood Thomas Award in 2019 for his life time contribution to occupational health and safety research and education.

No learning outcomes have been developed for the chapters considered introductory or underpinning knowledge (that is chapters 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 14, 15.)