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Unit 3.1 Prevention of Work-related Diseases

In view of the great potential they have to avert health problems and ease the economic burdens on both social security systems and organisations, contributions to the prevention of work-related musculoskeletal, metabolic, and cardiovascular diseases are key research areas for the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA). These diseases are usually attributable to a combination of occupational and non-occupational factors. An understanding of their multifactorial aetiology and the complex preventive approaches that can be formulated in response to it is of considerable significance if individuals are to retain their work ability and employability until they reach pension age, particularly under the conditions created by demographic change. BAuA is committed to taking the necessary technical and strategic steps to investigate the complex interactions between different factors in a systematic manner and derive sustainable, effective prevention strategies from the results that are reached. The unit applies a multidisciplinary approach in its research and development work, but also in the provision of policy advice and the transfer of good practice to workplaces. In doing so, it collaborates with the German Federation and federal states, academic institutions, and partners in all sectors of the economy, as well as presenting its work at the national, European, and international levels.

The unit's work is currently focussed on the following fields.

Research and development

  • planning and conduct of research projects on the maintaining and promotion of cardiometabolic and musculoskeletal health in workplace settings
  • participation in the formulation of guidelines and the evaluation of intervention approaches for evidence-based prevention (focussing on cardiovascular and metabolic diseases)
  • adaptation of risk assessment methods regarding physical workloads (above all key indicator methods) based on occupational physiological laboratory research and suggestions from companies, and the attendant practice transfer activities
  • innovative further development of methodologies with the aim of the holistic assessment of objective physical and mental stress, strain, and health indicators in the laboratory and in the field
  • establishment of cooperative academic activities in priority areas of epidemiological research

Policy advice

  • development of concepts and provision of advice on topics dealt with by the unit, above all regarding

    • risk assessment of physical workloads
    • contribution to the work programme of the Joint German Occupational Safety and Health Strategy (Gemeinsame Deutsche Arbeitsschutzstrategie, GDA)
  • scientific supervision of extramural initiatives to promote relevant research


Dr Janice Hegewald

Head of Unit 3.1 Prevention of Work-related Diseases

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