IFA, the Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (the former BGIA) is an institute of the German statutory accident insurers for the industrial and the public sector. As such IFA gives support to these institutions in all scientific and technical issues relating to the prevention of occupational accidents and diseases. 240 persons are involved in research, consultancy and testing in the following fields of interest: hazardous chemicals, biological agents, physical factors such as noise, vibration and radiation, safety of machinery including usability, ergonomics, epidemiology and toxicology.
IFA cooperates closely with other research institutions and universities, both on a national and on an international level. As concerns issues of product safety, IFA is also in close contact with industry: It is a nationally and European notified test and certification body under the terms of the European Directives for Personal Protective Equipment and Machinery. Besides that, it helps manufacturers to develop and optimize safe products for the world market.
Participation in standardisation and regulation-setting bodies is also part of IFA’s tasks. The majority of research issues stem from practice and deal with OSH problems encountered at company-level. IFA’s working results therefore have to be extremely field-oriented. Consequently, little basic research is done by IFA. At the same time, there is a close connection and exchange of information between research and other fields of activity relevant to prevention such as to further synergies and keep up-to-date in the state of the art of prevention. In addition to scientific research reports, IFA produces a variety of practical aids, among them several databases on hazardous substances. All of its working results are available free of charge on the internet: www.dguv.de/ifa