Division 3 "Work and Health" addresses physical, psychosocial and organisational working conditions as well as their relationships with employees' health, workability, and work participation. Current complex structural changes of work are accompanied by new constellations of working conditions that have only been studied insufficiently so far. The objective of research is to identify new psychosocial health risks as well as resources to promote health and workability. Further objectives are methodological developments in the field of evidence-based occupational medicine and research on workplace interventions.
With its work, division 3 focuses mainly on the two strategic fields of activity "Adapting working conditions to the needs of humans" and "Avoidance of work-related diseases - promotion of health and workability" as set out in the Work and Research Programme 2018-2021 of the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA).
On the one hand, research in this strategic field of activity focuses on the subject area "Mental workload: stressors and resources". The research questions relate to work intensity and recovery as well as psychosocial risk management. In addition, the effects of workplace interventions tackling mental workload are examined and their applications in relevant fields accompanied.
On the other hand, in the subject area "physical workload", the application of the newly developed "Key Indicator Methods" for risk assessment in the area of physical workload is supported in practice and accompanied from the scientific perspective. Furthermore, objective measurements of physical workload and strain are used to determine whether the weightings of different types of workload - currently primarily based on expert assessments - need to be adapted.
The strategic field of activity "Avoidance of work-related diseases - promotion of health and workability" is completely covered by research and development of division 3.
On the one hand, research work is carried out here on "maintaining and promoting cardiometabolic health in the workplace setting". To this end, various research approaches are used: for instance, BAuA participates in the Gutenberg Health Study, which, as a cohort study, allows conclusions on possible cause-effect relationships between occupational factors (such as night shift work) and selected functional cardiovascular outcome variables and/or the incidence of diseases. On the basis of objective methods of measurement for recording physical workload, sedentary behaviour at the workplace will be assessed and interventions for the promotion of cardiometabolic health will be evaluated and/or scientifically monitored. For the "prevention of the consequences of unfavourable physical strain at work", the distribution of musculoskeletal strains in the working population and their causes as well as the work-related causes of selected musculoskeletal disorders are examined. The ways in which preventive occupational health care is offered and implemented in companies with high physical workload is also to be determined.
Additionally, the division carries out research in the subject area of "work, mental strain and mental health". This is done, for example, based on the longitudinal Study on Mental Health at Work (S-MGA; "Studie Mentale Gesundheit bei der Arbeit"). The data of this study are used for detecting cause-effect relationships between psychosocial workload, burnout and depressive symptoms, for identifying relationships between positive indicators of mental health and working and employment conditions, as well as for determining associations between mental health and participation in working life. Furthermore, research is aimed at validating a method for continuously measuring and assessing mental strain over extended periods of time under realistic workplace conditions.
A third focus is the subject area of "operational integration management" (OIM). In addition to continuing the longitudinal study on return to work started by division 3, measures such as gradual reintegration or professional support for returnees are being examined as promising instruments in the reintegration process in order to derive design guidelines for OIM and to make them available for transfer into company practice. BAuA is also analysing different forms of cooperation between those involved in workplace prevention with the aim of generating recommendations for action for successful cooperation and thus supporting companies in designing OIM or workplace health management.
In addition to the two described strategic fields of activity from the 2018 to 2021 Work and Research programme, division 3 also addresses the impact of technological transformation on people-oriented tasks with the project "Task cluster: people-oriented tasks" in the BAuA focus programme "Occupational Safety & Health in the Digital World of Work".
To ensure the quality of results in occupational medical research, division 3 promotes the development of the methodology of evidence-based research in occupational medicine.
Division 3 also ensures the transfer of scientific findings into company practice and supports professional and methodological discussions on the topic of interventions.
The division is responsible for managing the Occupational Medicine Committee (AfAMed) at the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS), and members of the division's staff assist in the tasks of this Committee (updating of AMR 13.2, for example). The Scientific Office of the Medical Expert Advisory Committee on Occupational Diseases (Ärztlicher Sachverständigenbeirat "Berufskrankheiten", ÄSVB) is currently being built up in Unit 3.4, where it has been based since 1 January 2021. In addition, division 3 participates in two work programmes of the "Joint German Occupational Safety and Health Strategy (GDA)" on work-related mental load and work-related load on the musculoskeletal system, as well as the planned EU-OSHA campaign on musculoskeletal disorders. Furthermore, a subcommittee of the Committee on Maternity Protection (AfMu) is chaired by a member of staff from division 3.