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WHO-CC - WHO Collaborating Centre for Occupational Health

As a "WHO Collaborating Centre for Occupational Health" and a member of the network of the same name, the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) supports the World Health Organization (WHO) in implementing its plans of action in the area of occupational safety and health in the workplace.

The objective of the "Workers' health: Global plan of action" is to ensure the health and well-being of employees worldwide. The measures used to this end include:

  • primary prevention of occupational risks,
  • protection and strengthening of health at work,
  • improvement of working conditions,
  • coordinated measures from the general healthcare system specifically oriented to employees.

The network of the “WHO Collaborating Centres for Occupational Health” contributes to achieving this objective.

What is the World Health Organization?

The World Health Organization is a special organisation under the aegis of the United Nations (UN), and is based in Geneva. It was founded on 7 April 1948 and currently has 194 member states (as of July 2019). As the United Nations Coordinating Authority for International Public Health, its objective is "the best possible health for all". The main task of the WHO is fighting diseases, with a particular focus on infectious diseases, as well promoting general health. For this purpose, it has developed guidelines, standards and methods in health-related areas. The WHO currently has more than 7,000 employees, who work in 150 country offices, six regional offices and at the headquarters in Geneva.

What are the WHO-Collaborating Centres?

The WHO Collaborating Centres (WHO-CC) are institutions such as research institutes or university institutes appointed by the Director General of the WHO, and which assist the WHO with implementing its objectives and tasks. At present, there are over 800 WHO Collaborating Centres in more than 80 member states of the WHO.

The designation as a WHO-CC lasts for four years and goes along with specific tasks for the particular institution, which are defined in a "work plan". In their annual report, the WHO-CCs report to the WHO about their activities to implement their "work plan". The WHO decides on a new designation as a WHO-CC according to the fulfilment of the "work plan".

In the field of occupational health, there are currently 42 WHO-CCs (as of July 2019), 13 of which are located in Europe. In Germany, in addition to BAuA, this includes the Leibniz Research Centre for Working Environment and Human Factors at the Technical University of Dortmund (IfADo). Since 1992, representatives of these institutions have regularly met at intervals of two to three years. The most recent meeting took place in April 2018 in Dublin, Ireland.

In addition to the WHO-CCs, the key partners of the WHO in the area of “Occupational Health” are:

  • the International Labour Organization (ILO),
  • the International Commission of Occupational Health (ICOH),
  • the International Occupational Hygiene Association (IOHA), and
  • the International Ergonomics Association (IEA).

Contributions of the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health as a WHO-CC

The precursor institution to the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the Central Institute for Occupational Medicine (ZAM) in the GDR, also was a Collaborating Centre of the WHO: it was first designated in January 1976. In December 2017, BAuA was designated as a WHO-CC again for another 4 years. BAuA cooperates with other WHO-CCs, and fulfils its obligation according to the specific “Workplan 2017-21” in the form of three contributions:

  • Assessing the psychosocial work environment
  • Importance of fibre particle morphology for worker safety
  • Meeting of the network of WHO Europe Collaborating Centres for Occupational Health

The first contribution aims at further developing and validating the questionnaire to determine the “Psychosocial Safety Climate” (PSC) that was developed in Australia. The PSC is a specific form of organisational climate that addresses the principles and practices of an organisation in the interests of protecting employees’ mental health.

Another focus of BAuA is providing scientific support to the grouping approach of the WHO Guidelines on Protecting Workers from Potential Risks of Manufactured Nanomaterials. The focus is on providing protection against the harmful effects of asbestos-like fibre dusts.

As a third contribution, meanwhile, the organisation and holding of a meeting of the European "WHO Collaborating Centres for Occupational Health" is planned for the spring of 2021 in Dortmund.