What will OSH look like in 10 years’ time? IOSH content developer Jo Frape offers her thoughts.
After working with a colleague to produce a work equipment guide recently, I started to recognise all the advancements and automation creeping into the working world. It made me wonder, what does the future look like for the OSH professional, and the workers on the shop floor?
Technological advancements have accelerated so much in the past decade it feels like there has been no time to stop and look back to see how far we have come. Take the invention of the mobile phone. It did what it was created to do: communicate while on the move. I look down at my mobile phone now and I not only can I communicate but I listen to music, do my shopping, take 360-degree photos and connect with people all over the world. Until recently, Alexa used to just be an ordinary name, now it is the name of one of the most spoken to women in the world!
But technology hasn't just evolved our lives socially. The technological age has helped organisations to develop flexible working – employees can work away from the office but still be in contact and provide vital input through video calls and other forms of modern-day communication.
Technology is also reinvigorating the way training is delivered – no longer do we have to sit through hours of PowerPoint slides. Virtual reality has brought a fresh and much-needed edge to training. It’s allowing organisations to bring real-life risks and scenarios in a replicated building of their own and challenges the worker to address issues more interactively.
Drones are now being used to survey things such as land, removing the risk of working at height. Who knows what drones will be able to do two, three or even 10 years from now?
As organisations in certain industries look towards automation to increase efficiency, reliability and quality, the need for the ‘worker’ and in turn, the need for the OSH professional, could diminish.
Alternatively, technology may also create new jobs, new roles, new industries that have not even been thought of yet. So we could see more reason for ‘workers’ which would set new challenges for the OSH profession.
No matter what the future holds, IOSH will always be working to ensure the world of work is a health and safe place to be.