UiB offers online course in occupational health

Every day, 6,300 people die as a result of work accidents or work-related diseases. A new online course from UiB seeks to prevent workers from injuries and death.

These workers at the smelting plant in Tanzania are the future of the country. In spite of that they are working in life-threatening conditions. Two weeks before UiB visited one of their coworkers died.
CRUCIAL KNOWLEDGE: These workers at the smelting plant in Tanzania are the future of the country. In spite of this, they work in life-threatening conditions. Two weeks before UiB visited, one of their co-workers died.

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“Every 15 seconds, a worker dies from a work-related accident or disease. Two thirds of these deaths happen in developing countries,” says Bente Moen, professor and leader for Centre for International Health at the University of Bergen (UiB).

The course Occupational Health in Developing Countries is the second open online course created at UiB. The course begins 7 March 2016, and it is possible to sign up now.

The free online course is teaching basic knowledge on occupational health and how to prevent the development of diseases and injuries, caused by working conditions in developing countries.

Industrial revolution, poor conditions

A team from UiB has visited workplaces in Tanzania.

“The industrial activity in the developing countries is increasing, but focus on the working conditions is not following suit. Both the industry and the health services lack knowledge about the high risk of injuries and death in the work place. As a result, millions of people are getting hurt,” says Moen.

Moen is concerned about the employees paying the price.

“When the industry in these countries is formed, the production is considered the most important thing, not the workers, says Moen.

Flip-flops at the smelting plant

The young men are not a priority in health related issues.

“When we talk about developing countries it is often about the women and children. The truth is that numerous young men die or get injured trying to earn money for their families to survive,” says Moen.

Moen emphasises that though some work places have begun improving occupational health, the general condition is worrying.

“The lack of knowledge leads to a total lack of fortification at the construction sites. We also met workers at smelting plants working with their flip-flops and caps on in spite of a co-worker being killed by a glowing steel pole two weeks earlier.” 

Collaboration with African researchers

Moen is responsible for the course and the video lectures along with the UiB researchers Magne Bråtveit, Ole Jacob Møllerløkken and Gro Tjalvin.  The course is a collaboration with researchers in Tanzania and Ethiopia, and Gunhild Koldal at the Centre for International Health has been the project secretary. 

The course is aimed at all health personel, as well as workers in labour inspection and management of the health services in development countries. The course will also be relevant for health personel in other parts of the world, providing an understanding of the occupational health-issues in development countries.