Worlds of work. Worlds of humanity.

Working safely and healthily, now and in the future

Photo:Two roofers mounting solar panels on an old roof.

A look at the industry shows: The roofing and carpentry industry faces very different challenges with regard to the safety and health of its employees.
Source: morane -

Everyone is talking about Work 4.0, but not many are talking about the consequences for the safety and health of workers. What risks are associated with current and upcoming changes in the working environment? How can they be addressed by occupational safety and health bodies? And which areas require special action? These are questions which the IFA answers on the basis of a large-scale study, conducted by the so-called DGUV risk observatory.

To ensure that work can continue to be shaped in consideration of human factors, particularly during times of change, we need to know what lies ahead, and the early detection of workplace trends therefore plays a crucial role. The DGUV risk observatory is such an early detection system, as it seeks out key developments in the worlds of labour and education, helping social accident insurance institutions set up effective preventive measures, preferably in advance.

1 Focus on developments

In our century, two elements are both ubiquitous and fast paced: innovation and change, and they are primarily driven by technological quantum leaps, climate change, social changes and geopolitical shifts. Occupational safety and health faces a major challenge, as it needs to keep pace and identify key developments in good time. The IFA understood this need as early as 2011, when it set up a risk observatory which is now entering its third round of surveys.

  • Which trends, in particular, will have a significant impact on the worlds of labour and education in the years to come?
  • Which of these trends will influence the safety and health of insured individuals?
  • What will be the specific risks and opportunities?

These are the three core questions of the surveys conducted by the risk observatory. The survey group includes experts from the fields of science, politics and business, whose work focuses on future issues and the latest developments. They also include occupational safety and health experts, and their answers are to provide statutory accident insurers with guidance on their preventive goals, so that they can ensure safe and healthy workplaces under the above-mentioned circumstances. The specific methods have been described in detail in a separate paper ( Methodological approach of the risk observatory (PDF, 734 kB, non-accessible) )

In this way, the risk observatory can identify key issues in occupational safety and health - issues that should provide starting points for networking, exchanging ideas and collaboration within the statutory accident insurance institutions and also with external partners. This should make it easier to set priorities, particularly for costly preventive measures such as research projects, and to share knowledge based on experience. Moreover, it will save resources and avoid any duplication of work.

2 The changing risk observatory

The risk observatory is now entering its third round of surveys. The new survey was preceded by close coordination with the accident insurance institutions, with the aim of further refining the methodology and objectives of this tool. The results will be published here in due course. The results of the two previous surveys are still available online (see service box "Publications"), but should be read against the background of knowledge that was available at the time.

Further information

Scientific Publications:

Hauke, A.; Flaspöler, E.; Neitzner, I.; Reinert, D.:Trend analysis by risk observation: how the German statutory accident insurance prepares for the future in occupational safety and health. Saf. Health Work (2022)

Hauke, A.; Flaspöler, E.; Reinert, D.: Proactive prevention in occupational safety and health: how to identify tomorrow's prevention priorities and preventive measures. Int J Occup Saf Ergon (2018)

Reinert, D.: The future of OSH: a wealth of chances and risks. Industrial Health 54 (2016), pp. 387-388

Results of online survey II:

Arbeitswelten. Menschenwelten. Prioritäten für den Arbeitsschutz von morgen (German only)

Results of online survey I:

It‘s all about people

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Dipl.-Psych. Angelika Hauke

Interdisciplinary Services

Tel: +49 30 13001-3633

Dipl.-Übers. Ina Neitzner

Interdisciplinary Services

Tel: +49 30 13001-3630
Fax: +49 30 13001-38001