Mainstreaming OSH into education

Mainstreaming OSH into education. Two kids wearing ear protection headsets

Mainstreaming — or integrating — OSH into education means including it systematically in classroom lessons. Ideally it becomes part of everyday life for pupils, parents and staff.

If children start learning about safety and health as they learn to read and write, it becomes a natural part of how they work, play and live. They develop a good attitude to safety and health that will stay with them throughout their working lives.

Start young, stay safe: successful OSH education

OSH is best integrated into individual subjects rather than taught as a stand-alone topic. Activity-based learning and real-life examples will help bring the message home to children and young people. Key messages can be repeated in different ways for different age groups, whether in primary schools or vocational training colleges.

The whole-school approach is the ideal model. The integration of OSH into further education is more difficult and less well developed, particularly in universities. However, the same ‘whole-institute’ model applies. Networking and working in partnership with OSH authorities are key contributors to successful integration.

Integrating OSH into school life

The whole-school approach combines education and school management. Pupils and staff work together to make the school a safe and healthy place to work and learn through:

  • Risk education and OSH management, e.g. involving pupils in hazard spotting
  • Health education and promotion, e.g. healthy schools initiatives
  • Promoting dignity and respect for all, e.g. anti-bullying campaigns
  • Caring for the environment, e.g. reusing and recycling

Tips for successful integration

From case studies we know what helps to make the whole-school approach work:

  • Leadership from the head teacher to motivate staff and pupils
  • Involving pupils, parents and staff
  • Providing practical support and tools; the ‘Napo for teachers’ resource has been helpful here
  • Training for teachers
  • Networking between schools
  • Cooperation between OSH and education authorities
  • Being practical and linking risk education to subjects being taught

More information: