80% of working population don’t have access to OSH services

  • Health & Safety
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Peninsula Team, Peninsula Team

(Last updated )

It’s estimated that four out of five workers across the world don’t have access to basic occupational safety and health (OSH) services

To address this shortcoming, experts at Lancaster University and the International Commission on Occupational Health (ICOH) have begun a two-year research project. They aim to gain a better understanding of OSH’s scope, reach and effectiveness. The project will look at:

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

The project will be part-funded by the Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), and the first supported since the organisation reopened its research fund in 2022.

IOSH’s Director of Professional Services, Nicola Rinaldi, announced their support on Friday 1 March:

“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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Stavroula Leka is Lancaster University’s Professor of Organisations, Work & Health – she will lead the research to improve access to OSH services worldwide. She set out the project’s goals:

“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% 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.”

The research will be conducted in six stages, including a literature review, a global survey, the development of national case studies, interviews with stakeholders and a global roundtable.

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