For the work of the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV) and its institutions, it is important to ensure the early identification of trends and issues that may become relevant to occupational safety and health. This makes it possible to be proactive in shaping developments in technology (e.g. exoskeletons), society (e.g. more flexible working hours and places) and other areas – following the principle that "acting is better than reacting". Future trends can be identified through a Trend Search. The findings of the Trend Search can serve as a working basis and stimulus for DGUV’s specialist departments, areas and institutes, as well as for other interested partners.
The DGUV conducted a Trend Search in the past. For organisational reasons, this Trend Search was then taken over and realigned by the New Forms of Work subject group (SG NFA) as part of the Organisation of Safety and Health expert committee, with support from the Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (IFA). The aim of this project was to develop and test an exchange platform for collecting and presenting trends as well as a systematic and transparent evaluation methodology for prioritising those trends.
The trends are collected through a number of channels. It is a simple, easily accessible mechanism whereby everyone can send trends to an email address (email@example.com) on an ongoing basis. In addition, a Trend Search website has been set up to report on the methodology and findings of the Trend Search and from which trend reports can be submitted by filling out a form.
Trend reports are collected centrally by the IFA, with 15 September being the cut-off date for the end of each reporting year. Any trends submitted later are included in the report on the following year.
Once the trends have been collected, they are, where possible, compiled by the Trend Search staff under the relevant headings. The Trend Search also involves an expert panel comprising members of the New Forms of Work subject group (SG NFA) and representatives of the DGUV, accident insurance institutions and other associations and interest groups. The expert panel helps in compiling the trend reports via the data exchange platform PräventionsforumPlus (Prevention Forum Plus). In October, the collected trends are discussed in a meeting of the expert panel, followed by an evaluation of each trend. The coordinated evaluation procedure is published on the Trend Search website. This allows a prioritisation of the various trends and thus a ranking which is then published in an annual report.
The annual cycle of the Trend Search platform has been completed twice so far. The trend search and its findings have been presented to a number of DGUV committees.
Outcomes and conclusions:
The methodology of the Trend Search was revised by combining and further developing the methodology of the previous Trend Search and the SG NFA project 4.4 Strategic Planning of Recommended Actions in the Subject Area New Forms of Work (NFA). The revised methodology was tested in two runs and then published. The expert panel for discussing and evaluating trends was established and expanded, inviting a total of 41 experts. An evaluation meeting of the expert panel took place in spring 2021, during which the first run of the Trend Search was discussed and improvements were worked out for the second run.
The 2020 trend report was published in May 2021, covering 21 trends. The 2021 trend report is likely to be published in summer 2022, featuring 28 trends. The Trend Search has been presented to various DGUV committees and forums where it was well received: the Prevention Officers’ Committee (PLK), the Prevention Strategy Forum (Strategiegespräch Prävention), the Coordinators’ Expert Committee (KoK FB) and the Conference of Expert Committees and Subject Groups (Tag der FB und SG). The Prevention Officers’ Committee commissioned the development of an overall model entitled Issues and Trends (Themen und Trends). This led to the development of a model called DGUV Prevention Radar, where the Trend Search was one of three modules, alongside a Risk Observatory and an Issue Monitor.
This means that the Trend Search platform – now under the title Trend Search – was successfully developed and tested during the project period and will now be continued in its current form.
-cross sectoral-Type of hazard:
preventionDescription, key words:
Trend Search, workplace changes; new issues in occupational safety and health