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Taskforce 2

Mainstreaming OSH into Higher education

Integrating occupational safety and health into higher education

The world of work is facing major challenges due to rapid technological change, globalisation, climate change and, more recently, the Covid 19 pandemic. Occupational safety and health professionals must address these challenges, but it is unclear how well their academic training programmes prepare them for this task.

Against this background, an international working group coordinated by ENETOSH is addressing the question of how up-to-date UN Sustainable Development Goal 8 "Decent Work and Economic Growth" is integrated into higher education.

An online study was conducted in 2021 to investigate whether and to what extent content and learning objectives related to key SDG 8 topics (globalisation/climate change, social inequality, digitalisation/new forms of work, work-related illnesses and injuries) are included in the curricula of occupational medicine (OM) and occupational safety, hygiene and ergonomics (OSH). The study involved 91 higher education institutions in 30 European countries. Related human resource management (HRM) training programmes were also included for comparison purposes.

The exploratory study revealed that the study programmes of occupational medicine and OSH dealt with the above-mentioned topics only to a limited extent, with the exception of work-related diseases and injuries. In contrast, HRM programmes dealt with globalisation, climate change and digitalisation to a greater extent.

The study found deficits in dealing with the key challenges of the modern world of work. More relational, ethical and interdisciplinary learning is needed in degree programmes that address core issues of today's world of work.

The international working group includes 16 experts from 11 countries. The European social partners in the education sector are members of the working group. The working group is chaired by Prof. Johannes Siegrist, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf and Dr Ulrike Bollmann, Institute for Work and Health of the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV), coordinator of ENETOSH.

The study is part of the work programme of the Global Commission on Occupational Safety and Health, coordinated by the International Labour Organization (ILO): https://www.ilo.org/global/topics/safety-and-health-at-work/programmes-projects/WCMS_740999/lang--en/index.htm .

The results of the European part of the study were published in Occupational Medicine 2022:https://academic.oup.com/occmed/advance-article/doi/10.1093/occmed/kqac018/6573922?login=true

The study is to be continued at the international level in 2022/2023.


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Main members of the former ENETOSH Taskforce 2 (2018-2019):
Dr Nuria Mancebo, University of Girona
Alan Cowen, University of Brighton

This TF aims firstly at a clarification of the topic ‘Mainstreaming OSH into Higher education’; secondly at the establishment of a ‘Community of practice’ in this field that covers teaching and research as well and thirdly a small ‘Champion research study’ to clarify among others the following questions: What are undergraduate and graduate students taught about OSH in Higher education? How is the preparation for the world of work integrated into the studies and lectures in Higher education? How to improve the understanding of OSH in Higher education? How to improve the knowledge about OSH in Higher education? How to involve students into the world of OSH? How to find a common language for teaching OSH in Higher education in different regions of the world? How to consider a college or university as an organization, developing its processes and structures according to OSH criteria in the sense of a ‘Good healthy university’.

Please find the following document on the work of the Taskforce here (in PDF format):
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