What's the future of health and safety in your workplace_

Published on 18 Mar 2019

The discussion looked at the future of workplace health and safety with support from tech companies as Biosymm and Suit X (pictured).

Following the success of the roundtable we wanted to highlight some identified workplace health and safety trends that businesses should watch out for over the next 20 years.

In a report commissioned by Safe Work Australia, CSIRO examined the impact of six megatrends on work health and safety (WHS) and workers’ compensation.

The megatrends identified in this study are:

  1. The extending reach of automated systems and robotics.
  2. Rising issue of workplace stress and mental health issues.
  3. Rising screen time, sedentary behaviour and chronic illness.
  4. Blurring the boundaries between work and home.
  5. The gig and entrepreneurial economy.
  6. An ageing workforce.

This report presents four plausible future scenarios based on alternative ways these megatrends could play out:

  1. Business as usual
  2. Enabled (Employment models are the same, but with more automation)
  3. Restructured (Businesses change how they engage workers, with many people having multiple jobs)
  4. Transformed (Technology and new business models transform how we all work)

The megatrends and scenarios identified in this report hold relevance for WHS and workers’ compensation future frameworks, policies, legislation, and ways of thinking.

The report identifies the following areas as worthy of further investigation from a policy perspective:

  • The gig economy and WHS and workers’ compensation frameworks
  • WHS frameworks, safety standards and support with increasing autonomous systems
  • Leverage new and emerging technologies to improve WHS and workers’ compensation
  • Understanding technology and mental health, including opportunities for improved awareness, prevention and treatment.

APM has seen first hand both the opportunities and challenges presented by introducing technology into our workplaces and supports these recommendations to ensure the systems and policies in place to support us remain relevant to our changing workplaces.

Given the falling cost and increasing capability of digital systems, it is widely agreed that digital technology will significantly impact the nature of work in the future.

Even those jobs not replaced by robots will change as human workers are required to use and interact with a wide range of digital technologies.

The development of emerging technologies and new ways of working present both risks and opportunities from a WHS and workers’ compensation perspective.

The future holds many challenges, including some that may require reviews of existing models, legislation, and ways of thinking.

However, there are also significant opportunities to leverage new technologies to enable better WHS and workers’ compensation systems, compliance and regulation, which accurately reflect and effectively operate within the workforce environment of the future.

Click here to read the full report.

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APM WorkCare recently hosted a roundtable discussion on Emerging Technology in Wellbeing and Injury Management at the OHS Leaders Summit.