The plugin has a couple of hscript commands to set the OOC parameters and to get the OOC status, as you can see in the attached image. They can be used also from python, and probably they should be included in the rendering script (for example in the Deadline hython rendering script) to configure the feature at the render time.
In any case, as you say, the OOC could also be configured from the preferences file, so I'm not sure why Octane crashes when it is enabled ...
Computer Graphics Software Developer
Octane plugin development and support: LightWave and Houdini