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This observation surely still applies to occupational safety and health in the late twentieth century, and is relevant to organization personnel at all levels. As the workplace becomes increasingly complex, new demands have arisen for greater understanding of the causes and means of prevention of accidents, injuries and illnesses.
Government officials, academics, management and labour all have important roles to play in conducting the research that furthers this understanding. The critical next step is the effective transmission of this information to workers, supervisors, managers, government inspectors and safety and health professionals.
Although education for occupational physicians and hygienists differs in many respects from the training of workers on the shop floor, there are also common principles that apply to all. National education and training policies and practices will of course vary according to the economic, political, social, cultural and technological background of the country.
In general, industrially advanced nations have proportionally more specialized occupational safety and health practitioners at their disposal than do the developing nations, and more sophisticated education and training programmes are available to these trained workers.
Clearly, training needs and available resources will vary greatly in these situations. However, they all have in common the need for trained practitioners.
This article provides an overview of the most significant issues concerning education and training, including target audiences and their needs, the format and content of effective training and important current trends in the field.
These components are not separate, but rather are part of a continuum; any person may require information on all three levels. The main target groups for basic awareness are legislators, policy makers, managers and workers. Within these categories, many people require additional training in more specific tasks.
For example, while all managers should have a basic understanding of the safety and health problems within their areas of responsibility and should know where to go for expert assistance, managers with specific responsibility for safety and health and compliance with regulations may need more intensive training.
Similarly, workers who serve as safety delegates or members of safety and health committees need more than awareness training alone, as do government administrators involved in factory inspection and public health functions related to the workplace.
Those doctors, nurses and especially in rural and developing areas nonphysician primary health care workers whose primary training or practice does not include occupational medicine will need occupational health education in some depth in order to serve workers, for example by being able to recognize work-related illnesses.
Specialists require the most intensive education and training, most often of the kind received in undergraduate and postgraduate programmes of study. Physicians, nurses, occupational hygienists, safety engineers and, more recently, ergonomists come under this category.
With the rapid ongoing developments in all of these fields, continuing education and on-the-job experience are important components of the education of these professionals. It is important to emphasize that increasing specialization in the fields of occupational hygiene and safety has taken place without a commensurate emphasis on the interdisciplinary aspects of these endeavours.
Given limited resources, many companies and governments often employ a safety specialist but not a hygienist, requiring that the safety specialist address health as well as safety concerns.
The interdependence of safety and health issues should be addressed by offering interdisciplinary training and education to safety and health professionals. Why Training and Education?
The three are interdependent and receive varying levels of emphasis within different national systems. The overall rationale for training and education is to improve awareness of safety and health hazards, to expand knowledge of the causes of occupational illness and injury and to promote the implementation of effective preventive measures.
The specific purpose and impetus for training will, however, vary for different target audiences.
Middle and upper level managers The need for managers who are knowledgeable about the safety and health aspects of the operations for which they are responsible is more widely acknowledged today than heretofore. Employers increasingly recognize the considerable direct and indirect costs of serious accidents and the civil, and in some jurisdictions, criminal liability to which companies and individuals may be exposed.The online MBA UMD’s School of Business offers a transformative learning experience dedicated to developing professional skills.
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