What is it about?

Physiotherapists in the field of Occupational, Health and Safety (OHS) help employers and their employees make work safe and rehabilitate injured workers. This requires real-world practical experience at different workplaces to develop observational and problem-solving skills. This article describes workplaces that students go to for experience; mostly healthcare and manufacturing industries. Students write a report about their findings; nearly all reports (97%) demonstrated that students undertook risk management activities as required of employers by OHS legislation.

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Why is it important?

To date, little is known about OHS practice in the field of physiotherapy education. The industrial environment provides opportunities for students to extend their communication skills, professional behaviour, knowledge of work and work-related health issues beyond the conventional teaching within the classroom. The students’ experiences align with the professional practice standards, which set them up to practise in the OHS specialty. Host organisations benefit from students’ activities through improved awareness of work safety and compliance. Overall, this paper lays groundwork for comparisons between educational institutions providing OHS training for students.


We recognize that OHS is a universal issue for every workplace. The natural synergy between physiotherapy and OHS recognizes the physical work demands and biopsychosocial factors as essential to promoting workplace health and safety. Exposing students to the risk management model as a structure for clinical reasoning is an invaluable skill for their lifelong career. Using it on placement cements this skill, setting them up for whichever field of practice the students choose. This course has run at UniSA in various iterations for the past 30 years. The course longevity and associated industry-university partnerships are an embedded part of the undergraduate curriculum, possibly unseen in other national and international universities. Hence our desire to share it with a broad readership. ~ Rose and Edith

Edith Wong
University of South Australia

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Occupational health and safety activities undertaken by physiotherapy students: A retrospective review of industry placement reports, Work, February 2024, IOS Press,
DOI: 10.3233/wor-220676.
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