Dr Bill Gunnyeon CBE takes stock of how the OSH profession is adapting to technological upheaval and changing work models.
Q. What is IOSH’s strategy?
Shaping the future of safety and health lies at the heart of IOSH’s WORK 2022 strategy, extending IOSH’s reach, deepening its connections with partners across the world, supporting the profession and sharing knowledge and insights.
Back in March 2016, the IOSH Board of Trustees began the process to determine the next five-year strategy. This was vital for setting IOSH’s direction and ensuring it met the future needs of its members and stakeholders. It has also enabled the organisation to change and improve to rise to these challenges. Eight months of extensive consultation, information-gathering and research into IOSH’s dynamic external environment provided the evidence base and the ideas that led to the WORK 2022 strategy.
Q. What will be the main priorities for the remaining two years of WORK 2022?
The Board of Trustees have been extremely pleased with the progress made, and so the remaining two years of the strategy continue with implementation of the Enhance, Collaborate and Influence aims.
Under Enhance, several initiatives will be rolled out over the next 24 months. These include a new version of Blueprint linked to the revised competency framework. It will allow members to objectively assess themselves against our OSH professional standards as well as plan and access a range of new CPD resources.
There will be a brand-new, simplified and user-friendly CPD portal that allows members’ time to be focused on their development by automating many of the recording activities. Our aim is that every single IOSH member completes CPD each year to keep themselves up to date.
The new IOSH Career Hub has recently launched, which gives members access to career planning tools and advice as well as e-learning, video and podcast content on business and soft skills.
And of course we expect to conclude our membership grades review later this year and will be able to show clear pathways to achieving the highest of professional standards as demonstrated by our Chartered status – our aim is that 40% of our members achieve this.
We are expanding the number of countries we will be working with to support the technical, regulatory and policy level development of OSH to support our Influence and Collaborate strands. We will be evolving our activities in South-east Asia, North Asia, West Africa and the Middle East. We will also continue to build on our strategic global relationships with the International Social Security Association and the World Health Organization.
Q. What preparations are in place for life beyond WORK 2022?
The trustees have commissioned some horizon-scanning activity to explore three key questions: what is the future of OSH, the OSH profession and IOSH? This information will be used to inform the specifics of the next strategy. There is consensus among the trustees that the next strategy should be evolution not revolution.
Q. How will the profession need to adapt to future trends such as changing work models, new tech and demographic shifts?
We predict that where people work, the design of workplaces and the type of work people do will all change radically as technology increasingly replaces human endeavour. The informal economy will grow in all countries
and many countries must encompass an ageing demographic.
Nations may become more introspective and economies will have an increasing localised focus as resources become scarcer. Countries with fast economic development will quickly catch up with OSH performance and potentially exceed those in more static economies. Climate change will drive new OSH considerations and risk responses.
The need to keep workers in work healthier and for longer will keep the focus on mental ill health and non-communicable diseases (cancers, asthma, sensitisation and so on), chronic musculoskeletal conditions and an ageing demographic. There will be recognition that a sedentary lifestyle brings new risks to health (for example, diabetes, obesity, heart disease and cancer).
Greater realisation that although physical injury repairs quickly, occupational health risk leads to chronic debilitation. These long-term care needs will help to erode the present short-term consideration of OSH.
The focus on emerging risk from technological change will continue, including artificial intelligence, autonomous and unmanned technology, additive manufacturing and new construction and manufacturing materials, human machine interfacing, robotics and autonomous systems, and blockchain and 5G.
Q. What is the future of work?
The focus will change from economic success models to a desire for a thriving society. Organisations will be held more accountable for ethical practice and sustainable businesses will become favoured, especially those who fully engage their supply chain.
Better management tools and techniques will be developed to manage the OSH of remote workers and within the informal economy. There will be less emphasis on regulation and standards as the pace of change outstrips the speed at which they can be written and agreed. Instead, risk management, prediction and prevention will become more prevalent concepts.
There will be changes in how OSH information is communicated with new methods and a greater audience segmentation driving a need for repurposed content across multiple platforms. But information will be more bite-size statements accompanying infographics with option for more detail if desired. There will be lots of actors communicating OSH guidance that will create a huge amount of noise to cut through, potentially creating difficulty for the user to know what information to trust.
Profile: Dr Bill Gunnyeon CBE
Chair of IOSH’s Board of Trustees since 2016, Bill has spent most of his career in the occupational health field. He has held several senior and high-profile roles in the private and public sectors, involving professional and strategic leadership as well as commercial and business development responsibilities.
Between 2005 and 2014, he was chief medical adviser, director for health and wellbeing and chief scientist at the Department for Work and Pensions, where he led on the health and work agenda within government, including responsibility for delivering and implementing the government response to the Black review of the health of working-age people, the development and implementation of the fit note, and the development of the government response to the review of sickness absence.
A past president of the Faculty of Occupational Medicine, he is currently a lay governor at Glasgow Caledonian University, and took up the post of chair of the General Osteopathic Council at the beginning of April.