Changes in the world of work in the last few decades have markedly affected questions regarding occupational safety and health (OSH). Jobs in our economy continue to shift from manufacturing to services. Longer hours, shift work, reduced job security, temporary work are realities in the modern workplace, new chemicals, materials, processes are developed at an ever accelerating pace. The workforce is also changing. It will become older and more racially diverse and women are increasing. These changes present new challenges to protect worker safety and health and it was been indispensable to redefine priorities, by consulting all those involved in OSH. The present study therefore made a critical comparative analysis of the main published projects to identify research priorities in the OSH field, comparing methods, approaches and results. Comparison of the priority areas established in each of these studies is inherently difficult due to differences in socio-cultural backgrounds, in the methods employed to identify priority topics, and the many factors involved. However, it is clear that the Delphi technique is widely used as a reliable method, in that it covers a broad range of qualified witnesses, from a variety of backgrounds -such as trade union representatives and researchers- providing different viewpoints. It also takes account of the intrinsic features of OSH which -compared to other disciplines- involves multidisciplinary factors calling into play a range of scientific settings, such as toxicologists, molecular biologists, epidemiologists, occupational hygienists and occupational physicians. This analysis showed how important it is to reach consensus among all those operating in the OSH sector, in order to establish standard methods that can be applied in different contexts, and give results that can be validly compared.