Every ten episodes or so, we give ourselves permission to discuss some of our own research. We thought it was about time we discussed another one of David’s papers.


So, on today’s episode, we discuss Occupational Health and Safety management and if it can be considered a profession. 

We’d love to hear from our international listeners if our findings match their experiences.


  • Making generalizations about work across Australia.
  • Collecting and defining OHS knowledge.
  • Three broad criteria for defining a profession.
  • Defining a role and career path.
  • The OHS body of knowledge.
  • Claim over decisions.
  • Technical problems and social problems.
  • How to define a professional organization and determine which is the premiere org for your profession.
  • Do you need to be part of a professional organization?
  • Why there need to be professional education programs.
  • Practical takeaways.

 “A profession should have an established hierarchy, it should have some consistency in role titles, and it should have a career path.”

“We’ve got this wonderful project called the body of knowledge, but in the professional sense, we don’t have a stable body of knowledge; we have a really contested body of knowledge…”

“Either you put up barriers to entry and say ‘safety work should only be done by recognized professionals’. Or you say ‘we want to grow as an organization and anyone can be a recognized professional, just send us the cash’. And either way, you end up diluting what it means to be recognized as a safety professional.”


The Emergence of the Occupational Health and Safety Profession in Australia