IOSH OSH education and training policy position June 2018

The human toll of global OSH failure each year means an estimated 2.78 million fatal work-related injuries and diseases and 374 million non-fatal accidents, with young workers believed to be 40% more likely to suffer work-related harm than older ones. The financial cost of these failures is put at almost 4% of global GDP per year, or around 3 trillion USDs (ILO figures).

To help reduce this human, financial and social toll and enhance working lives, IOSH advocates for OSH to be firmly embedded in education and training systems worldwide, to create more ‘risk-intelligent’ societies. Ultimately, we believe this will help to save lives and enable organisations to strengthen their reputations, resilience and results.

The facts

  • Worldwide, 2017 saw an estimated 2.4 million deaths from occupational disease, 380,500 people killed at work and over 374 million injured (at least four days’ absence).
  • As well as the human toll, this failure was believed to cost the global economy around 4% of GDP, about 3 trillion USDs.
  • In the UK alone in 2017–18, 144 people were killed at work and around 13,000 died from work-related disease.
  • Between 2017-18, 1.4 million working people suffered work-related illness in the UK and over 70,000 were injured, requiring time off work.
  • The cost of injuries and ill-health from current working conditions (2016–17) to the UK was put at £15.0 billion.
  • Young people are particularly at risk, as they face unfamiliar risks in new surroundings and have yet to develop the psychological capability to understand and manage risk.
  • In England, legislation requires young people to stay in education or training until 18 and provides rights for adults to receive skills training
  • Such legal requirements provide an opportunity to upskill young people, and those at work, with the know-how to thrive throughout their working lives.
  • According to the UK report Working for a healthier tomorrow, “Healthy workplaces need to become the expected norm” and “Schools, further education and higher education have a role in embedding these expectations in the next generation”.
  • IOSH supports competence and the work of the International Social Security Association (ISSA) training and education section; the European Network on Education and Training in OSH (ENETOSH); and the UK’s apprenticeship trailblazers.
  • IOSH’s online OSH competence framework tool, IOSH Blueprint, enables users to assess their competencies and produce development plans.
  • IOSH also offers a level 3 qualification, Health and safety for business, as well as a range of training and accredited courses (see here).

Our position

To help tackle the toll of global OSH failure and enhance working lives, IOSH advocates for OSH to be embedded in education and training systems to create more ‘risk-intelligent’ societies, as highlighted in our 2011 submission to the UK’s Löfstedt review.

Education and training systems should cover OSH in national, vocational and professional curricula, outlined in our evidence to the UK Government’s independent review on schools. Including OSH education in schools and apprenticeships would support the vision in Working for a healthier tomorrow.

We believe that young people should be able to take advantage of all the positive opportunities that are offered to them and learn how to deal sensibly with the new challenges of modern society. Helping children to be risk-aware – not risk-averse – is giving them a valuable and transferable life-skill. We support the benefits of learning outside the classroom and the upskilling of future business leaders.

OSH competence is an essential requirement that needs to be developed across organisations and throughout working lives. Business and management qualifications should include OSH as a core discipline in the same way that they currently cover marketing, finance and human resource issues.

IOSH supports work to provide engineering students with OSH learning materials, co-producing The business case for engineering in health and safety. We have also supported the Workplace Fire Facilitator Training Project – South Asia Pilot and the train-the-trainer OHS initiative for workers and community in Bangladesh, as well as Mental health at work training in Scotland (Train 2015).

IOSH resources

Guides and online tools:

  • IOSH provides a number of free tools to help organisations develop skills in this area (see here) and the IOSH Blueprint competence and skills framework
  • IOSH has an IOSH means business section, highlighting the resources we provide to support employers and organisations of all sizes

Consultation responses:

Research reports: