Occupational safety and health: understanding decision making and the role of evidence

A graduation cap sits on top of a construction helmet

Photo by BillionPhotos.com/AdobeStock

What is the issue?

Occupational accidents, illness, and fatalities are a major cause for concern in high- and low-income countries. The International Labour Organization estimates that, every year, 2.3 million people globally die of work-related accidents and illnesses, which translates to about 6,000 deaths every day. Occupational accident rates have plateaued in the last decade in high-income countries, with annual occurrences of around 340 million accidents and 160 million victims of work-related illnesses globally.

There is a need to improve working conditions and make workplaces safer, to reduce the number of fatalities and injuries, and the incidence of work-related diseases, as well as to promote and protect psychological wellbeing.

How are we helping?

RAND Europe has been commissioned by Lloyd's Register Foundation to conduct a study to better understand the processes of decision making within the context of occupational safety and health (OSH). More specifically, the focus is on how evidence is used, or not used, when taking decisions related to health and safety. Evidence here is defined as the available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid.

Understanding how evidence is used provides the opportunity to make improvements that will lead to better safety outcomes, at a global level.

The objectives of the research are to identify:

  • what types of evidence exist
  • who is using evidence, and what for
  • how decisions are informed, and what role evidence plays in this process
  • which agencies are involved in producing evidence, and in translating and sharing that evidence.

The research will be conducted in two phases:

  1. A rapid evidence assessment of the academic literature.
  2. Stakeholder engagement through a global survey, interviews, and workshops.


We are currently conducting a survey of OSH stakeholders, researchers and policymakers, as well as workers within all sectors.

The survey aims to further understand the key sources of evidence and key producers of this evidence in OSH, and to better understand who is using which types of evidence and how they are using it. This relates to decision making at a variety of levels within organisations and the chain of decision making within different industries that impact safety outcomes.

If you wish to take part in the survey, please click on the button below:

Take the survey