Chapter 39.1: The OHS professional as a ‘critical consumer’ of research

Chapter 39.1: The OHS professional as a ‘critical consumer’ of research

One of the characteristics of a professional is that their practice is evidence-informed and reflects current knowledge. While Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) professionals may conduct research, they are more likely to be ‘consumers’ of research conducted by others. Consequently, they need to be able to access and analyse OHS-related research literature to maintain their currency of knowledge and to identify implications for their professional practice. This chapter provides a basis for understanding the need for OHS practice to be informed by research together with a review of the types of research, research design, data collected and the key features of an academic paper as a basis for critical review. For OHS professionals embarking on evidence-informed OHS professional practice, guidance is provided for clarifying the purpose of a literature search, accessing resources, and appraising research literature. A framework for critical review of research papers is presented. Finally, OHS professionals are encouraged to use evidence from individual papers to inform their practice, to reference the evidence base in their reports and to use documented critical analysis of research to enhance their continuing professional development.

Keywords: OHS, occupational health and safety, evidence-informed, professional, practice, research, critical consumer

First year of publication: 2012

Current Version Under Review Review: 2019

Chapter 39.1: The OHS professional as a ‘critical consumer’ of research

Table of contents

1 Introduction
2 Types of research
3 Research literature
4 Embarking on evidence-informed OHS professional practice
4.1 Clarifying the purpose of a literature search
4.2 Accessing resources
4.3 Critical analysis of research papers
5 Using research to enhance practice
5.1 Using evidence from individual papers to inform OHS practice
5.2 Referencing the evidence base in professional reports
5.3 Enhancing the continuing professional development process
6 Summary
7 References
Appendix 1 A framework for critical review of research papers by OHS professionals…

Pauline Zardo BA(Hons) PhD candidate,
Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Monash University

Pauline’s PhD project is focused on evaluating capacity for evidence-informed decision making in public health policy environments. Currently, Pauline works as a Research Translation Officer for the Institute of Safety, Compensation and Recovery Research. Previously, she was a Policy and Project Officer in WorkSafe Victoria’s Health and Safety Strategic Programs Division, and has written evidence-based fact sheets on workplace issues for an industrial relations and human resources consultancy company.

Pam Pryor BSc, BEd, GDOHM, FSIA
Secretary, AIHS OHS Education Chapter Sessional Lecturer, Senior Research Fellow and PhD candidate, University of Ballarat

Pam has qualifications in education and in OHS, and has been a practising OHS professional for more than 25 years. She has worked in various internal and externalconsultant OHS roles, and was the chair of the Technical Panel for the OHS Body of Knowledge project. Currently a PhD candidate at the University of Ballarat, Pam’s thesis is titled “Towards an understanding of the strategic influence of the occupational health and safety professional.”

Peer reviewer

Dr Steve Cowley PhD, BSc(Hons)(OHS), MSc(OccHyg), GCert(Ed), FSIA, RSP
Steve Cowley Health & Safety Consulting

Learning Outcomes: Model of OHS Practice

The OHS Body of Knowledge takes a conceptual approach which enables it to be applied in different contexts and frameworks.

To optimise its value for education and professional development learning outcomes have been developed for each technical chapter in the Body of Knowledge.

The learning outcomes as described give an indication of what should be the capabilities of an OHS professional; it is up to those developing OHS education programs, OHS professionals planning their CPD or recruiters or employers selecting or developing people for the OHS function to consider the required breadth vs. depth .

Please read the section on using the learning outcomes before delving into the leaning outcomes of the individual chapters.

The numbers against each learning outcome refer to the chapter number of the BOK download page. No learning outcomes have been developed for the chapters considered introductory or underpinning knowledge (that is chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 1, .13, 14, 15.)

Find Out More About Using the OHS BOK Learning Outcomes


Safety of Work Podcast: Ep 48: Are injury rates statistically invalid? 
This podcast examines what it means when something isn’t peer-reviewed, why statistics are ever-popular, using a model that weighs underlying variables and randomness.
Date: 2020
Presenter: Drew Rae & David Provan

Safety of Work Podcast: Ep 49: what exactly is a peer-reviewed journal paper?
This podcast discusses peer reviewed journal papers, what they are and how they function. It explains academic journals, what makes a reputable journal, the peer-review process, journal shopping and its risks. It also gives advice on accessing journals in the Internet age.
Date: 2020
Presenter: Drew Rae & David Provan