Call for research 2023/24

Funding application window is open

Experienced researchers can apply to us for funding on three different occupational safety and health topics.

Research topics

  • Topic A - Investigation of work-related adverse health outcomes in the workplace (including physical and mental ill health): barriers, facilitators and guidance
    Full details of topic A
  • Topic B - Occupational health training for occupational safety and health professionals: context, challenges, and opportunities
    Full details of topic B
  • Topic C - Algorithmic management and occupational safety health risks in a digital workplace
    Full details of topic C

Who can apply?

Researchers must have a track record in high-quality research. We expect applicants to have published research in several peer-reviewed journals and other non-academic publications.

How to apply

Our 2023/24 call for research has a one-stage application process.

There is no set minimum or maximum amount that can be applied for.

Researchers can submit more than one proposal. Each submission must be a stand-alone project supported by its own application.

Applications are considered case-by-case and on merit. Project activity must match the costs and demonstrate value for money.

Research application files

Application form and separate guidance document.

Download ZIP 0.2 MB

The research application files download contains the application form (Word) and a separate guidance document (PDF) inside a ZIP folder.

Please email your completed application form to rfunding@iosh.com

The deadline for applications is 23.59 (GMT) on Monday 5 February 2024.

Need more information?

We are running three informal drop-in online sessions on Zoom on Monday 11 December.

Our research team will provide a briefing on key details about the research call. You can also ask any questions you may have about the application process.

Sign up for one of the sessions:

What happens after I've submitted my application?

There are five key steps in the application process:

  1. Following receipt of the proposal, applications undergo initial internal assessment and shortlisting. All applicants are informed whether their proposal has been shortlisted or declined.
  2. Shortlisted applications go through an independent peer review.
  3. Recommendations from the peer reviewers to support applications are reviewed internally before final recommendations are made.
  4. Recommended applications require approval from our Business Management Group, finance and investment committee and Board of Trustees.
  5. Applicants are notified of our final decision. Successful applicants are informed by email and, following approval, are issued with our contract for an authorised person at the lead research organisation to sign.

You can see full process in the call for research proposals diagram (PDF 539KB).

Topic A – Investigation into work-related adverse health outcomes: barriers, facilitators and guidance


Work-related health problems result in an economic loss of 4–6 per cent of GDP for most countries (1). A total of 12 billion working days are lost every year to common mental health disorders (2). The World Health Organization (WHO) and International Labour Organization (ILO) joint report states that disease is responsible for more than 80 per cent of the global burden of work-related disease and injury.(3)

Physical- and mental- ill health have a significant impact on workers, organisations and national economies. Despite these known impacts the negative health outcomes of work-related exposures and events are rarely investigated. Investigation would help establish the underlying causes, with the intention of implementing corrective action to prevent recurrence.

Recent anecdotal insights(4, 5) show that adverse work-related health outcomes (including physical and mental health disorders) are poorly investigated by health and safety professionals. Various reasons have been cited for this lack of investigation, including:

  • lack of knowledge on how to investigate them
  • lack of training and understanding on the health effects of workplace exposures
  • the latency of disease
  • complexity of causality (for example, personal versus workplace)
  • stigma
  • the confidential nature of many health-related conditions.

Even where practical guides to investigating accidents and diseases are in place, they provide little information on how to investigate a work-related disease.

Workplace investigations are a key first step to establishing the root cause of these adverse physical and mental health outcomes and gathering information to prevent future cases.

Lots of methods exist for accident investigation in the workplace, which are constantly reviewed to ensure high quality investigations (6). This is not the case for adverse health outcomes. For example, a recent review on work related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) highlighted the need to develop processes to support the investigation of MSDs in organisations (7). There is a lack of research examining investigation practices and methodologies to respond to reports of adverse health outcomes including mental health disorders.

Call for proposals

We are calling for research proposals (in English) from experienced researchers exploring the research objective. Given the novelty of the research, we propose that a multidisciplinary reach should be applied.

Research objective

Examine the barriers and facilitators to the investigation of adverse health outcomes (including both physical and mental ill health) in the workplace, and develop a framework, model or guide for use by multidisciplinary professionals to facilitate the investigation of adverse health outcomes in the workplace.


  1. World Health Organization. Tackling NCDs: 'best buys' and other recommended interventions for the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2017. Contract No.: WHO/NMH/NVI/17.9.
  2. WHO. WHO guidelines on mental health at work. Geneva: WHO; 2022.
  3. Pega F, Al-Emam R, Cao B, Davis CW, Edwards SJ, Gagliardi D, et al. New global indicator for workers’ health: mortality rate from diseases attributable to selected occupational risk factors. Bulletin of the World Health Organization. 2023;101(6):418.
  4. 4. ICOH/IOSH. Applying safety investigation standards to occupational health incidents Leicester, England: IOSH; 2022. Available on the IOSH YouTube channel.
  5. 5. IOSH/ICOH SCAP. Investigating adverse health events Leicester, England. 2023. Available on the IOSH YouTube channel.
  6. Salguero-Caparros F, Suarez-Cebador M, Rubio-Romero JC. Analysis of investigation reports on occupational accidents. Safety Science. 2015;72:329-36.
  7. Goode N, Newnam S, van Mulken MRH, Dekker S, Salmon PM. Investigating work-related musculoskeletal disorders: Strengths and weaknesses of current practices in large Australian organisations. Safety Science. 2019;112:105-15.


ILO 2015. Investigation of occupational accidents and diseases : A practical guide for labour inspectors. Geneva: ILO.

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Topic B  Occupational health training for occupational safety and health professionals: context, challenges and opportunities


Occupational safety and health professionals play a key role in supporting the health and workability of employees. Traditionally, the role of the occupational safety and health professional was seen as securing a safe working environment. For example, free from accident and injury.

The introduction of health into workplace safety and health legislation in the 1970s (for example, Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974 in the UK, the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 in the USA) saw a shift in focus acknowledging that health-related issues were as important as the safety related ones.

The high accident injury statistics of old have largely been addressed, albeit not to the extent that accidents do not happen. What is now seen is a wide range of adverse health outcomes in the workplace, such as musculoskeletal disorders, mental health disorders, cardiovascular and respiratory disease and occupational cancers.

The WHO/ILO report of the work-related burden of disease and injury shows that globally the most significant contributor is disease. 81 per cent of the burden is related to disease rather than injury (1).

This statistic clearly highlights the need to prevent adverse health-related outcomes in the workplace. As with the prevention of workplace accidents, the occupational safety and health professional should be involved.

This view is supported by safety and health professionals in the UK, who identified the need for improved training on health-related priorities (2). Research in the USA also showed that 69.5% of surveyed occupational safety and health practitioners had a less than basic knowledge of the health impacts of whole-body vibration on worker health (3).

The lack of understanding of health implies that the workers may not be supported by practitioners with an adequate knowledge of the health impacts of occupational hazards. Despite the inclusive approach of legislation, there appears to be a lack of focus on the health-related component of workplace hazards in the training programmes for safety and health practitioners.

Globally, work-related health issues require focused attention in order to reduce the incidence of occupational diseases and disorders. Occupational safety and health needs of workers should be approached from a holistic perspective. This requires practitioners to better understand the health impacts of hazards in the workplace, as well as the bi-directional relationship between hazards and health. For example, the impact that hazards have on health as well as the impact that non communicable diseases (hypertension, diabetes, asthma) have on a worker’s workability.

This research call aligns with ILO's discussion around the development of occupational safety and health education and training and the professional collaboration within occupational safety and health disciplines (4). There is a need to explore and address occupational health training for professionals that provide either safety related or a mixture of safety and health related functions at the workplace.

Call for proposals

IOSH is calling for research proposals (in English) from experienced researchers to explore occupational health knowledge among occupational safety and health practitioners, their required competence and the role of occupational safety and health practitioners in preventing occupational disease in coming years.

Research objectives

Explore aspects of occupational health training for occupational safety and health practitioners in countries with a sophisticated regulatory framework to evaluate:

  • knowledge of health impacts of occupational hazards
  • competencies required to prevent work-related diseases and ill health
  • role of education and training programmes in equipping the practitioner to address occupational disease.

Participating countries should be selected and motivated based on level of maturity of the regulatory approach and occupational safety and health qualifications and training system within the country, allowing for comparison.


  1. Pega F, Al-Emam R, Cao B, Davis CW, Edwards SJ, Gagliardi D, et al. New global indicator for workers’ health: mortality rate from diseases attributable to selected occupational risk factors. Bulletin of the World Health Organization. 2023;101(6):418.
  2. Leka S, Khan S, Griffiths A. Exploring health and safety practitioners’ training needs in workplace health issues. Wigston, UK: Institution of Occupational Safety and Health. 2008.
  3. Paschold HW, Sergeev AV. Whole-body vibration knowledge survey of U.S. occupational safety and health professionals. Journal of Safety Research. 2009;40(3):171-6.
  4. International Labour Organization. Occupational safety and health professionals at the workplace level. Geneva: International Labour Organization; 2023.

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Topic C – Algorithmic management and occupational safety and health risks in a digital workplace


Algorithmic management, also known as algorithmic control or digital management, refers to using algorithms and automated systems to monitor, evaluate, influence and discipline worker behaviour in various workplace settings.

This emerging phenomenon has gained significant attention in recent years as organisations increasingly rely on algorithms to streamline operations, improve productivity, and optimise decision-making processes. The implementation of algorithmic management systems also raises concerns regarding potential occupational safety and health risks in the workplace.

Algorithmic management fits into a broader context of the implementation of technological tools and digitalised supervision systems aimed at governing the workforce (1-3). Algorithms and Artificial Intelligence (AI)-enabled tools are used to manage, discipline, and evaluate workers’ performance. This can be viewed as a form of automation of managerial roles in organisations (4). One of the crucial components necessary for these algorithms to function properly is a vast amount of data on workers. Data needs to be collected from different sources, which implies that almost every worker activity is, in principle, subject to monitoring and tracking. These activities may include the worker's use of computers (for example, email and social media), their location, or even their health status. The data is then processed by software to assess, among other purposes, productivity and engagement.

Algorithmic management can lead to monitoring workers to an extent that would have been unthinkable in the past. And also to collecting and processing an enormous amount of personal data on life and work activities(5).

This collection and processing of data by machines exceeds the capacity of any kind of human supervision, past or present(6). It has been documented in scholarly research as causing an increase in psychosocial issues in workers (7). Other OSH risks, such as MSDs, heat stress and chemical exposure could be influenced or improved by algorithmic management systems.

Research to date provides limited lived experience of workers being managed by algorithmic management. A human perspective of working with algorithmic management systems would be a welcome contribution to the scholarly debate.

Research objectives

We are seeking research that highlights the occupational safety and health impacts of cross-industry transfer of digital technologies and organisations' adoption of algorithmic management. The research should:

  • investigate the interaction between algorithmic management and occupational safety and health risks
  • explore the facilitators and barriers to worker health, safety and wellbeing when implementing algorithmic management
  • evaluate workers' lived experience and the role of relevant stakeholders in relation to algorithmic management and occupational safety and health
  • lead to the development of a framework, model and/or guide of occupational safety and health best practice for adopting algorithmic management systems in the workplace, across industries.


  1. Ajunwa I, Crawford, K, and Schultz, J. Limitless worker surveillance. California Law Review. 2017:735-76.
  2. Moore P.V. APUM. Digitalisation of work and resistance, in Moore P.V., Upchurch M. and Whittaker X. (eds.) Humans and machines at work, Cham, Palgrave Macmillan, 17-44. In: MacMillen P, editor. Humans and machines at work. Cham: Palgrave MacMillen; 2018. p. 17-44.
  3. Moore, P., OSH, and the Future of Work: benefits and risks of artificial intelligence tools in workplaces, European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA), 2019.
  4. Adams-Prassl J. What If Your Boss Was an Algorithm? The Rise of Artificial Intelligence at Work. Comparative Labor Law & Policy Journal. 2019;41:123.
  5. Dagnino E. People Analytics: lavoro e tutele al tempo del management tramite big data. Labour and Law Issues. 2017(1):1-31.
  6. De Stefano V. 'Masters and Servers': Collective Labour Rights and Private Government in the Contemporary World of Work. International Journal of Comparative Labour Law and Industrial Relations. 2020;36(4).
  7. EU-OSHA - European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, Artificial intelligence for worker management: implications for occupational safety and health, 2022.


  1. Kellogg, K. C., Valentine, M. A., & Christin, A. Algorithms at work: The new contested terrain of control. Academy of Management Annals, 2020 14(1), 366-410. 
  2. EU-OSHA (European Agency for Safety and Health at Work), Artificial intelligence for worker management: an overview, 2022.
  3. Urzí Brancati, C., Curtarelli, M., Digital tools for worker management and psychosocial risks in the workplace: evidence from the ESENER survey, Seville: European Commission, 2021, JRC125714.

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