Workers’ Health Education is an initiative aiming to stimulate and support education and training in basic occupational safety and health knowledge and skills all over the world. The initiative is meant to improve the situation for the large numbers of workers worldwide that lack (semi)professional support in labor health and safety. It is funded in 2011 by the Coronel Institute of Occupational Health, a department of the Academic Medical Center of the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The initiative is part of, and supported by the WHO Network of Collaborating Centers in Occupational Health. A Steering Group will be established including other WHO Collaborating Centers.
Why Workers’ Health Education?
About 80% of the workers worldwide do not have access to any professional support in occupational safety and health. One of the strategies to improve this situation, identified in the WHO Global Plan of Action on Workers’ Health (2008-2017), is the development of so-called Basic Occupational Health Services (BOHS). Here, support is given to workers for example by (semi) professionals working in primary health care, such as general physicians, nurses, technical experts or community workers. These (semi) professionals then should be educated and trained, so that they can adequately provide their services.
Initiatives to support basic services in occupational health and safety are launched under different names in various parts of the world such as in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe. Important initiatives are WISE and WIND activities, supported by the ILO in different countries to stimulate community initiatives in favor of safe and healthy working conditions. Also other initiatives can be mentioned such as educational programs and initiatives by ICOH, occupational hygienists (IAOH) and ergonomists (IEA) for people with poor facilities to control adverse working conditions. Education and training of professionals and semiprofessionals in basic knowledge and skills in occupational safety and health is an essential component in many initiatives.
The Workers’ Health Education initiative has the aim to support the education and training efforts through improvement of access to good learning materials that are available, and through encouragement of communication and collaboration of all those involved.
Purpose of workershealtheducation.org
Purpose of the Workers’ Health Education initiative is to facilitate the education of non-specialists in basic occupational safety and health to enhance the quality and effectiveness of their work. This is done by providing good quality learning materials, easily accessible and in general free-of-charge, on as-much-as-possible relevant content areas. To find learning materials easily, the website provides thorough descriptions of the learning materials in the form of metadata, at the same time to be used as a tool for easy selection of the materials. Exchange of materials and experiences between all those committed in supporting basic services in occupational health and safety is encouraged by facilitating a Forum, via which users from all over the world can exchange questions and all kind of basic services experiences, plans, programs, curricula, etc. Besides, learning materials, which are not yet covered by the website, can be exchanged via the Forum function.
Target groups and users
The WHO Collaborating Centers are stakeholders of this initiative but also a most important target group. In addition, we consider as target groups those institutes and persons who will participate in the initiative through contributions and active use of the learning materials such as (1) educational institutes for occupational safety and health e.g. connected with universities or professional associations, and regional associations of these institutes, (2) national institutes for occupational safety and health, for public health, for primary health care, and associations of these (3) WHO, inclusive regional offices, ILO, inclusive ILO CIS centers, (4) many other institutions that are committed at education and training in occupational safety and health (OSH) such as ICOH, IAOH, IEA, WONCA and ISSA, but also institutions connected with governmental departments, companies, unions and employers’ associations, branch wise associations such as in agriculture, construction and health care, social security organizations and others, and (5) other committed persons and institutes who want to support and use this initiative.
The main end users or consumers are the teachers and participants of the courses that are provided e.g. by the schools for education and training in various countries. For them, the courses, learning materials, plans, programs and experiences from others have been presented on or via this website. End users or consumers of the content of the lessons can be professionals not specialized in OSH, but also workers, supervisors and managers who want to learn more about OSH and who will find this site on the web when looking for information. We hope that all users will enjoy the teaching and learning of occupational health and safety.
Quality of the learning material
We started with the development of a metadata form to describe in detail those materials that we thought to be of good quality and relevant for the target groups and users. In the future we will develop a set of criteria for relevance and quality, needed for the selection of materials for the collection, and for comments and suggestions related to the materials as to encourage more relevance and a better quality. We will discuss this issue in the Steering Group that will be developed.
International community of practice
Essential for successful education in workers’ health is an active community of users and educating professionals. Such a community can match the need for certain learning material with the supply. But also, it can ensure that the level of the material offered is of sufficiently high quality and most relevant. Everyone is encouraged to participate in the community of practice via the Forum.
At the moment of the start of this initiative we are discussing the formation of a Steering Group consisting of representatives of WHO Collaborating Centers. The task of the Steering Group is to review and stimulate the relevance and quality of the collection of materials and of the Forum function, to disseminate the initiative, and to help find the funding needed.
Sponsoring & sponsors
See separate topic Sponsoring policy.