David Magee is a teacher and safety trainer from Belfast, N. Ireland. He is the founder of OSH literacy.org™ and is involved with several international safety-related literacy programmes including ISSA’s global Vision Zero project, Europe’s ENETOSH and OSH Africa. He has written and presented several papers on literacy and wellbeing.
Reading Danger: How recognizing, teaching and raising awareness of OSH literacy™ as an essential functional literacy skill can save and change lives.
In this age of information and safety awareness, Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) communications are everywhere. The ability to identify, understand and utilize OSH information is essential for personal wellbeing and social and economic mobility. However, few people will have any OSH literacy skills prior to encountering it. This has disastrous consequences for millions of people. OSH literacy changes lives.
“According to the ILO: ‘Every day, [approximately 6000] 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, often life-changing] non-fatal work-related injuries annually, resulting in more than 4 days of 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.’ (ILO, 2018). Most of these incidents occur within the first twelve months of employment. Root-cause analysis studies have identified poor communications as an underlying factor in a significantly high proportion of them and there are particularly at-risk groups. The unique communication system used in Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) is comparable to any other recognized, or new ‘literacy’. Nowadays, it has become an important life-skill literacy. Examples of OSH information can be found on common household products and in public spaces too. (NB: There is no statistical data available to show the amount of deaths and injuries caused by poor OSH literacy skills at home or public spaces.) However, OSH literacy has not been recognized as an essential life-skill literacy, yet. Therefore, most young people around the world continue to leave school and enter into training, employment, and independent living without the functional literacy skills needed to identify, access, evaluate, utilize or comply with any of the OSH information and services they are likely to encounter or need. The aim of my presentation is to show the correlation between these facts and demonstrate how by recognizing, teaching and raising awareness of OSH literacy as an essential life-skill literacy for the information age, we can make a tangible and beneficial change to the lives of very many people.”