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OSH education

IOSH policy position on occupational safety and health in general education

With people spending a huge amount of time at work, occupational safety and health (OSH) education is crucial. Here is the IOSH view on it.

What’s the issue? 

Most people aged 20 to 65 spend one third of their waking hours at work, so educating and training our future workforce about health and safety can help prevent work-related harm.

Studies show the risk of occupational accidents involving young workers – those aged 24 or under – is 25-40 per cent higher than for older age groups. The reasons for this include them being new to the job and unfamiliar with hazards, their inexperience and lack of confidence to challenge current practices, and them being easily led by poor example, along with the fact they are often assigned higher-risk and more physically demanding tasks. 

How do we see it? 

We need a cultural shift to reduce occupational injury, illness and disease among our future workers. We believe health and safety education, made inclusive to those with disabilities or from marginalised backgrounds, should be part of mainstream education and training at all levels, from primary schools to vocational training and apprenticeships.

We want the students of today, and generations to come, to be the safe, healthy, and productive workers of tomorrow. If children start learning about safety and health at an early age and as part of the school curriculum, it becomes a natural part of how they work, play and live. Early OSH education empowers young people to proactively identify and manage risks, enabling the reduction of preventable work-related injuries and illnesses throughout their careers.

A generation of young workers equipped with OSH knowledge will bring long-term economic benefits to business.

  • Legislate OSH into national education strategies.
  • Work with OSH professionals and education authorities to mainstream OSH and risk awareness into education.


  • Take a whole-school approach to mainstreaming OSH into education, including through curricula, student and teacher training, and school management representatives. 
  • Focus learning on hazard recognition, risk assessment, and safer behaviour. 
  • Provide OSH education resources appropriate to age levels and subjects.
  • Train the trainer: involve teachers in OSH in schools helps to give them the knowledge and confidence to teach risk education to pupils.
  • Mainstream OSH into higher education to reach future professionals such as engineers, architects, medical professionals, business professionals and managers.

This policy position represents IOSH's view as of April 2024 based on the best evidence available to us. We will review it periodically and reserve the right to change and update it drawing on new information.