OSH literacy can be described as: “the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and utilize the occupational safety and health (OSH) information and services needed to make appropriate decisions with regard to safety and health at work.”*
‘Every 15 seconds a worker dies from a work-related accident or disease. Every 15 seconds 153 workers have a work-related accident. Every day, people die as a result of occupational accidents or work-related diseases – more than 2.78 million [recorded] deaths per year. Additionally, there are some 374 million [recorded] non-fatal, work-related injuries and illnesses each year, many of these resulting in extended absences from work. The human cost of this daily adversity is vast and the economic burden of poor occupational safety and health practices is estimated at 3.94 per cent of global Gross Domestic Product each year.’ (International Labor Organization’ (I.L.O.) 2017).
Data analysis shows that lack of education and training, low levels of literacy and poor communications are a root-causal factor in a significantly high number of all recorded OSH incidents globally. The highest-risk group are those within their first twelve (12) months of employment (especially young people), migrants and persons with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).
OSH uses a complex system of shapes, colours, symbols, pictograms, sounds and terminology to keep us safe. We can see examples of it at home, in work and in public places. This system of communication needs to be recognized and taught as an essential life-skill literacy. We must equip already at-risk people with the basic OSH literacy skills needed to identify, understand and comply with safety and health information prior to them encountering it in work, training or independent living.
OSH literacy is also the name of our small, education and training NGO. We are a collective of volunteer teachers, trainers, health-care workers and OSH professionals committed to making a tangible reduction in the unacceptably high numbers of deaths, diseases, injuries and losses which occur globally due to poor OSH communications, especially for at-risk groups. We are the world’s only NGO specifically focused on improving OSH communications and training. We are funded through donations and offering training and consultancy services. ALL profits fund our outreach projects. We work closely with other national and international NGOs, OSH, educational and private organisations to raise awareness and best practice with OSH literacy. Our aim is to have OSH literacy recognized and taught as an essential life-skill literacy and to make OSH communications and training Accessible to All.