Safe Work Australia led conversations and memorials on the World Day for Safety at Health at Work and Worker’s Memorial Day last month (April 28th), a worldwide promotion of safe workplaces and a memorial of those who have lost their lives to workplace injuries.
The World Day kicked off a year-long commitment by Safe Work Australia (SWA) to promote a safe and healthy future of work.
“As digital technologies and automation become more common, employment and workplaces are changing. It’s important that with an ageing workforce and rising levels of stress—we need to plan our future workplaces and ensure we make them safe and healthy and reduce the risk of workplace injury,” the SWA wrote in a statement.
The future of work will bring new challenges and new opportunities to improve employee safety and health.
Advances such as artificial intelligence, augmented reality, automation, and the Internet of Things (IoT) are becoming more and more common. Tasks based around AI, AR, and digital platforms may change the way employees interact with their employers, how those work hours are structured, and where tasks take place.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics says that one in three people work from home in some capacity. The Australian Government is also aiming for 12% of the public service telecommute by 2020.
Australia’s ageing population is contributing to an older workforce; there are also rising numbers of stress and chronic diseases which also need addressing.
The SWA have also urged both employees and employers to read their Workplace Safety Futures report which “identifies six megatrends on work health and safety (WHS) and workers’ compensation over the next 20 years.”
These “megatrends” are the extended reach of robotics and automation; the rising issue of workplace stress and mental health concerns; rising screen time and sedentary lifestyles; the blurring boundaries between work and home; the gig and entrepreneur economy; and the ageing workforce.
The gig economy and workers’ compensation is one area the SWA is looking at, as obligations between gig employers and contractors are not well defined. The SWA report also looks at WHS frameworks for autonomous systems, using new technology to improve WHS and compensation, and understanding the relationship between technology and mental health.
The report also outlines four possible scenarios as these new issues and technologies take hold of the world of work.
To read the report, click here. [https://www.data61.csiro.au/en/Our-Work/Future-Cities/Planning-sustainable-infrastructure/workplacesafety]