28 April 2019; The World Day for Safety and Health at Work is an annual international campaign to promote safety and health in the workplace and Worker’s Memorial Day honours those who have died from work-related injury or illness.

 

A new report on recently published by International Labour Organisation on Occupational Safety and Health (OSH), reveals upcoming challenges and opportunities to improve working environments.

 

The emerging challenges include psychosocial risks, work-related stress and non-communicable diseases – circulatory and respiratory diseases and cancers.

 

A staggering 374-million people are injured or fall ill every year through work-related incidents. Looking to the future, there are four major focuses for driving change:

 

1 Technology;

increased digitalization has provided the opportunity of real-time monitoring of workers to reduce hazardous exposures, but has simultaneously reduced privacy through the collection and recording of sensitive personal information.

 

2 Demographics;

In the case of sedentary and repetitive work, women are increasingly affected by musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), and face a higher risk of developing MSDs when compared to men performing the same tasks.

 

3 Sustainable development;

While the increase of green jobs and industries will promote low-carbon societies and may reduce hazardous work in traditional sectors such as mining, green jobs may also give rise to emerging and unknown risks, such as exposure to chemicals in the recycling sector.

 

4 Changes in work organisation;

The growth of the globalized platform economy has blurred the lines between home and work – on one hand reducing the stress associated with commuting and increasing self-reliance, while on the other hand, creating unique psychosocial pressures for workers attempting to balance the demands of work life and home-based responsibilities.

 

This study also proposes 6 areas where policy makers and stakeholders should emphasise to address these points.

 

These include more work on anticipating new and emerging OSH risks, adopting a more multidisciplinary approach and building stronger links to public health work. Better public understanding of OSH issues is also needed. Finally, international labour standards and national legislation need to be strengthened, something which will require stronger collaboration between Governments, workers and employers.

 

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