Key changes and results
Occupational safety makes an important contribution to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 8.8 (promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all), specifcally, to fulflling Target 8 (to protect labor rights and promote a safe and secure working environment for all workers).
According to ILOSources: Safety and health at the heart of the future of work, ILO, 2019., over the last 100 years notable progress has been made globally in developing approaches to promote safe and secure working environments. The number of occupational accidents has declined and working environments improved owing to an ongoing identification and mitigation of work-related hazards.
Nevertheless, the challenge of creating safe and secure working environments for all remains important. According to an ILO ReportIbid., of 18 exposures measured between 1990 and 2016 only occupational exposure to asbestos had fallen while all other exposures increased by almost 7%. At the same time, the world of work is undergoing profound changes as a result of new technologies, changing demographics, and climate change, all of which create new challenges, as well as opportunities.
- The emergence of Artificial Intelligence (robotics), mobile devices and an opportunity to remotely manage production processes removes workers from hazardous workplaces and reduces the likelihood of occupational illnesses. Still, injury risk may rise due to the specific features of human-AI interaction and human contact with the equipment used by robots. The risk of marked growth in cognitive overload is set to increase and can have significant effects on workers’ psychological and social health.
- Automation is unlikely to replace most occupations entirely but instead will change the type and number of human tasks. Mobile (wearable) smart devices to improve workplace factors (to help monitor air quality and levels of workers fatigue, etc.) are increasingly used. However, those using such smart devices on a regular basis may lose the ability to autonomously make the right decisions on their own.
- In the long run, climate change will be a major driver transforming the world of work. It is estimated that a projected increase in global temperature of 1.5°C by the end of the twenty-first century, will cause total work time to decrease by 2 per cent by 2030 because it will be too hot to work. This will represent a loss of 72 million full-time jobs.
The Report stresses the need for active participation by governments, employers and workers, and all other stakeholders to seize the opportunities to create a safe and healthy future of work for all.