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Researchers to explore OSH service delivery around globe

Date posted
01 March 2024
Press release
Marcus Boocock
Estimated reading time
3 minute read

With four out of five of the world’s workforce estimated not to have access to basic occupational safety and health (OSH) services, researchers are to explore the reasons behind this and how it might be improved.

The research has been part funded by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) and will be conducted by experts from Lancaster University and the International Commission on Occupational Health (ICOH).

The project begins today (Friday 01 March) and is set to take around two years, with the researchers seeking to gain a better understanding of the scope, reach and effectiveness of OSH around the world.

Among the issues they will explore are:

  • the influence of country economic status, national policy, laws and regulations, organisation size, models of work and occupational sectors
  • the facilitators and barriers that influence how OSH is delivered and to establish how this knowledge could be used to improve and promote OSH.

Unacceptable barriers

This is the first research project IOSH has supported since it reopened its research fund in 2022 as part of its work to deliver on its charitable objects. With a safe and healthy working environment now recognised as a fundamental principle and right at work, IOSH sought out research teams who could look into the current state of play of OSH around the world and how it can be improved.

"Every worker around the world has the right to a safe and healthy workplace, but we know this is far from the case for so many people and that they face risks to their safety and health every day. This is unacceptable, and we hope this research will shine more light on what is preventing good OSH provision in all parts of the world and how any barriers can be overcome. We are looking forward to working closely with the research teams at Lancaster University and ICOH on this project, which has the potential to be the catalyst for change in workplaces around the world."

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Future of work

The research is being conducted in six stages, which include a literature review, a global survey, the development of national case studies, interviews with stakeholders and a global roundtable.

It is being led by Professor Stavroula Leka, who specialises in organisations, work and health at Lancaster University.

She said: “High occupational safety and health standards are of paramount importance for the future of work, and for the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

“However, it is estimated that 80 per cent of the global working population still do not have access to basic OSH services and where these services are implemented, they vary in scope, content and quality, with a multi-disciplinary, comprehensive approach addressing both physical and mental health and wellbeing, seldom being undertaken.

“We are excited to be embarking on this research, in collaboration with ICOH, to generate new knowledge on the global state of the art on OSH service delivery and provide consensus on priorities for the future of effective OSH service delivery with a global focus, recognising safety and health as a universal fundamental right at work.”

IOSH, Lancaster University and ICOH will publish updates during the course of the research project, which is due to complete in 2026.

Last updated: 29 May 2024

Marcus Boocock

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