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Industry and Academia Should Collaborate to Prevent Workplace Injuries, Glasgow Conference Concludes

An international Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) conference was held in Glasgow recently which brought together health and safety professionals, researchers and academics from 27 countries, to discuss how academic findings can be used to better protect people at work.

There were eight keynote presentations featuring around 100 research projects from all over the globe presented during the four day conference. Research from Europe, North America, South America, China and Australia was presented during the conference, organised on behalf of workingonsafety.net. There were specialist presentations, including accident prevention in Denmark, evaluations in workplace safety in Canada, and research in Spain regarding emerging risks associated with new technologies. The conference highlighted that although there are culture differences in workplaces around the world, the challenges faced are often very similar.

The overall opinion on the conclusion of the conference was that in order to cut the number of people being harmed at work, academics and industry must find ways to work together to create practical solutions to health and safety issues.

The executive director of policy at IOSH, Dr Luise Vassie, said: "If we are really going to make the world of work a safer place, we have to translate our findings and bridge the gap between academic results and practical solutions".

She continued: "Yes, it's about those in the academic world gaining an appreciation of the problems facing those with a responsibility for health and safety at work and applying academic rigour to provide the answer. This can only happy, however, if businesses and other organisations open their doors and allow researchers to gain meaningful insights into their work environments. This is a collaboration that is happening in areas, but we really need more of it".

There were also calls for more funding for research projects in occupational safety. Dr Graeme Collinson, the current chair of the IOSH research committee, said: "What we invest in health and safety research compared to the huge losses associated with accidents and ill health at work is tiny.

Dr Collison added that, "at the very minimum we shouldn't be losing any more research resources, but we also need to get much better at focusing the precious resources we do have on the priority issues, both through national coordination, and through global collaboration". It is therefore hoped that the international aspect of the conference will assist in the establishment of a permanent world-wide network of experts in accident prevention in the workplace.

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