Principal contributors
It is difficult to clearly identify all the forces responsible for the wave of change in work safety and occupational health. The visible indicators of change are perhaps the changed role of the government inspectorate, the safety representative and media promotion.

These signs of change represent only the curl of the wave. The real forces are far less obvious than inspectors, representatives and media promotion. Some examples are listed below.

Many educational institutions offer studies in occupational health and safety or a particular aspect of this field, such as ergonomics or occupational hygiene. These courses have led to a large increase in highly skilled and career minded professional people working in the field.

Government administration
Government departments exist to administer the occupational health, safety and welfare legislation. These departments have an inspectorate role and may also provide information, education and training services.

They are also given the responsibility to prosecute for a breach of particular legislation and the task of producing standards and codes of practice. Some also provide research grants for occupational health and safety studies.

Professional associations
The interest created by safety and health reform around the world has led to a growth in the number of people working in the field of accident prevention and health management.

Internationally, associations such as the International Social Security Association and the International Commission on Occupational Health have emerged as groups with potential for influence. A range of national professional associations also exists.

Trade unions
In many countries trade unions play an important role in securing and improving working conditions, often being represented on occupational health and safety policy making bodies. Groups such as the International Federation of Free Trade Unions also bring pressure to bear on those countries where unions are weak or non-existent.

A number of employee associations have appointed full-time health and safety officials. This is likely to increase as the employee demand for safer and healthier work environments places increasing pressure on the traditional union services and skills.

Employer groups
Employer groups and associations are usually also represented in occupational health and safety policy making bodies. Groups of employers in a particular industry sector may also develop particular approaches to health and safety relevant to that industry and provide health and safety assistance to employees in that industry sector.

International Labour Organization (ILO)
The governing body of the ILO is the International Labour Council on which employer and employee bodies and governments are represented. The ILO publishes a series of conventions and recommendations on occupational health and safety to be used as a basis for minimum standards.

These documents are well regarded, as is the ILO Encyclopaedia of Occupational Health and Safety which has become a widely used reference source.

Public pressure
Many of the industrial processes and work activities that are carried out have an effect on people both inside and outside the workplace. Escaping chemicals, noise, dust and dumping of industrial wastes are just a few examples. There is undoubtedly a strong public and media influence in the drive for safer and healthier work.

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