Fit for the future: will the 4th industrial revolution be good or bad for our health? Key topic to be discussed at The Health & Safety Event 2018

At the recent XXI World Congress on Safety and Health in Singapore, Secretary General of the International Social Security Association (ISSA), Hans-Horst Konkolewsky, asked a large audience of international safety practitioners whether the 4th industrial revolution will be good or bad for worker’s health and safety. Overwhelmingly the answer that came back was that yes, ultimately the changing world of work will be good for our health and wellbeing. However, there will be many challenges to navigate – and risks to understand and control – before these revolutionary changes have been completed.


To understand the nature of these changes, The British Safety Council has commissioned RobertsonCooper to produce a literature review, ‘Future changes to the world of work and the impact on employee health, safety and wellbeing,’ into the state of research about the changing world of work and their associated risks. The review tells us that people are living – and working – for longer; that many tasks are being automated; modern communication technologies are dissolving the work/home divide; new materials like nanotechnology (including tiny airborne waste products that can damage our health) and new techniques can present new risks; and an increasing use of more ‘flexible’ employee contracts.


With these deep and fundamental changes to work, the risks associated with work are also changing. The spectre of automation is of course at the heart of many of these discussions. Research by IPPR says that 10 million jobs are at risk from automation in the UK. When those health and safety practitioners were asked the question about the future risks of work, the health advantages of automating certain hazardous processes (for example the increasing use of automated riveting or 3D printing) – and by implication the removal of people – was uppermost in their minds. There are also health benefits to these modern, flexible ways of working where people are adding specific value to automated processes.


This review will be launched live at The Health & Safety Event, held at the NEC, Birmingham from the 10-12 April 2018 and forms part of the British Safety Council’s brand-new seminar programme for this year’s edition. In addition, visitors will also get access to new conference content including a new stream dedicated to supporting Lone Workers and an extended programme of sessions on Safer Logistics.





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