We propose to enhance the capacity of the Center for Work, Environment, Nutrition and Human Development (CWEND) to become an interdisciplinary Asia-Pacific GEOHealth Hub in Occupational Safety and Health. This planning period will be used to plan for research, training and curriculum development, and to develop the interdisciplinary network of scientists and policy-makers necessary to address worker health and safety concerns in several workplace sectors critical to the expansion of the Thai economy. Although Thailand has a strong basic occupational health and safety (OSH) infrastructure that provides fundamental OSH protections to workers in larger sized private sector workplaces, gaps in OSH still exist in other workplace sectors. As a model for the integration of academic research with the development of new policies to protect worker health and safety we will focus on the informal and healthcare sectors, which are not covered under current OSH regulations. We propose to collect data on the perceived gaps and opportunities for new OSH policy initiatives in these sectors, in order to develop a prioritized research agenda to support these initiatives. We also propose to collect background survey data on the OSH experience, concerns and issues faced by Thai workers in the informal and health care sectors. CWEND will work with the existing DrPH and the new PhD program in OSH at the Mahidol Faculty of Public Health, the University of Massachusetts'Departments of Work Environment, Nursing and Community Health and Sustainability in collaboration with the Thai Public Health Education Institutes Network (ThaiPHEIN), to expand the research capacity of current faculty, staff and graduate students to produce high quality research in support of new policy initiatives for OSH in Thailand. CWEND will also plan to expand research capacity training to other regional partners using the South East Asian Public Health Educational Institutes Network (SEAPHEIN) network and the Asia-Pacific Academic Consortium for Public Health (APACPH) network, in both of which Mahidol University plays a leadership role.
This proposal will develop a plan to enhance research collaborations and training and support the science needed to develop national occupational health and safety policies in the economically important areas of the informal and health care sectors in Thailand.