Wednesday, March 21, 2012: 14:15
Bacalar 1 (Cancun Center)
Occupational safety and health (OSH) specialists need knowledge in research to a) evaluate existing studies and b) carry out (and eventually publish) their own high quality research projects and thereby enhance knowledge in the field. While theoretical background is frequently well known, many OSH professionals especially from developing countries lack applied knowledge. This might be one reason why scientific studies in OSH from developing countries are sparse. Project-based learning is known to be an efficient approach to train adult learners and might thus be a tool to train research in OSH. We therefore aimed to test whether project-based learning is useful to train OSH professionals in applied research. Within the Center for International Health LMU (www.cih.lmu.de) we implemented a project-based training module for OSH professionals from Latin American countries. The projects start with a two week onsite training during which each participant develops his own research protocol with focus in the informal sector and SMEs. Participants work in small groups supervised by a local tutor. They use the same study design and questionnaire. Over the next 12 months, these projects are carried out by the participants, data are analysed and results are published. During the first course, 29 research protocols were developed successfully for the following sectors of 7 Latin American countries: health care sector, mining, public sector, SMEs, informal workers, child labour, and large industries. In the meantime, about 60% of the projects were carried out successfully. After the field work students completed an online statistics course and currently write up their final reports in paper format. This approach is one example how applied research in OSH can be taught and being put into practice. Using the same study design and questionnaire instrument results can be combined and compared. However, a large number of tutors are needed to guide the students.