Performance of a long-term study into the effectiveness of activities conducted by OSH professionals

Project No. IAG 420404-01


completed 05/2013


This long-term research study into the effectiveness of the work performed by OSH professionals, conducted by the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV), is the only one of its kind within Europe. Its aim is to use scientific methods to study development of the effectiveness of the tasks performed by OSH professionals in companies and to obtain empirically robust results.


In the course of the study, eleven discrete surveys were conducted and the results merged in order to analyse, respond to and review the problems. Specifically, a basic survey was performed three times primarily for analysis of the task and action structures, the influences common among companies, the conditions within companies, and the personal characteristics. In-depth studies were conducted twice, between the first and second and between the second and third basic surveys. The primary purpose of these study elements was to obtain information on the motives of the OSH professionals behind their activity, and on the OSH professionals' own estimations of its effectiveness. Parallel to the in-depth studies, surveys were also conducted of further relevant players such as management staff, members of works/staff councils and occupational physicians, in order to validate the information stated by the experts in the same plants. This illustrates the highly complex and deep insights into the actual situations of the experts and companies and into the differentiated cause-and-effect relationships in the occupational safety and health of workers at work.


In order for the complex cause-and-effect relationships to be analysed in the development of OSH professionals' effectiveness, a survey had to be designed primarily for repeated polling of the core areas of activity and effectiveness. To permit estimations of the influence in particular of the experts and the companies in these areas, these aspects were also surveyed repeatedly, and the results supplemented by the assessments of third parties, i.e. industrial partners. This enabled an extensive and detailed picture to be obtained of the occupational development of OSH professionals, the complexity of which is clearly evident from the concluding report of the study.

The following specific observations were made in the study for implementation by the German Social Accident Insurance Institutions:

1. Support for underperforming staff

2. Increasing of the benefit to the company

3. Allowing the accident insurance institutions greater access to companies, for the purpose of supporting the OSH professionals

4. Identifying and observing sector-specific cause-and-effect models in the OSH professional/company structure

5. Systemization of OSH culture; conducting of risk assessment and OSH management

In addition, the study reveals central points of interest that have been summarized under the heading of effectiveness in change:

1. Greater involvement of SMEs

2. Observation of changes resulting from structural and business processes

3. Extrapolation of process models for the expert and the company

4. Enhancing effectiveness by a wider understanding of occupational safety and health

5. Co-operation with OSH professionals within and outside the company

A further practical focus of the study is the networking of OSH professionals amongst themselves and with other parties with responsibility for OSH. Almost 4,000 OSH professionals network with each other, providing mutual advice and support, in some cases on a daily basis. The assurance of quality but without supervision by the accident insurance institutions is crucial here. The community permits shared learning processes for members of different professions and learning motivated by interest. The community of OSH professionals should therefore be maintained and integrated more strongly into networks.

Last Update:

17 Jan 2014


Financed by:
  • Deutsche Gesetzliche Unfallversicherung e.V. (DGUV)
Research institution(s):
  • Institut für Arbeit und Gesundheit der Deutschen Gesetzlichen Unfallversicherung (IAG)
  • Universität Jena
  • Technische Universität Dresden
  • Systemkonzept GmbH
  • Universität Potsdam

-cross sectoral-

Type of hazard:



staff qualified in occupational safety, evaluation

Description, key words:

OSH professional, evaluation of the effectiveness of activities conducted by OSH professionals