Digitalisation – tipping point for a culture of prevention?
Digitalisation at work: world of opportunities or potential risks?
MSc, PhD, Senior Research Project Manager, Prevention and Research Unit, European Agency for Safety and Health at Work
Project Manager, Prevention and Research Unit, European Agency for Safety and Health at Work
Advancing faster than any innovation in our history, digital technologies have transformed our society and our daily lives. For workers and employers in many workplaces and in all sectors, digital technology offers increased opportunities but also presents greater challenges and risks in terms of occupational safety and health (OSH).
Aimed to raise awareness, provide practical resources and bring stakeholders together, the 2023-25 Healthy Workplaces campaign “Safe and healthy work in the digital age” is in line with the key priorities of the EU Strategic Framework Strategic Framework on Safety and Health at Work 2021-2027 by contributing to manage change in the context of the digital transition and to the European Commission’s Vision Zero approach by promoting a prevention culture. It draws on research conducted by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) for the OSH Overview on Digitalisation 2020-2023.
The use of digital technologies for work brings opportunities for everybody, including new opportunities for improving OSH:
- Automation relegates repetitive, labour-intensive and unsafe tasks to machines.
- Robotics and AI support and replace workers in hazardous working environments.
- Digital technologies and performance-enhancing technologies (e.g. exoskeletons) improve access to the labour market for disabled workers, migrants or workers located in areas with scarce employment opportunities.
- Better monitoring combined with big data allow for more timely and effective interventions.
- A better work-life balance, flexibility and autonomy experienced by workers who can work from home.
But there are also challenges and risks:
- Digital monitoring, loss of autonomy, work intensification and pressure to perform at a certain standard.
- Middle management jobs are replaced by algorithms allocating tasks to workers and monitoring their performance.
- Loss of job control, fragmentation of jobs into very simple tasks to be executed in a standard way, narrowed job content and de-skilling.
- Isolation of workers, increase of virtual interactions and loss of peer support.
- Incorrect or unfair decisions about workers stemming from automated or semiautomated processes using data and/or software containing mistakes.
- Unclear responsibility for OSH and the applicability of OSH regulations.
- Mobility, flexibility, 24/7 availability, and blurring of boundaries between work and private life.
More information about the use of digital technologies in the workplace and the new EU-OSHA campaign can be found on the ’Safe and healthy work in the digital age’ website and the section on digitalisation of work.
To clarify the terminology, from ‘machine learning’ to ‘the cloud’ and ‘data bias’, the EU-OSHA Digitalisation Glossary provides definitions of the terminology related to the campaign.
The campaign materials, including a campaign guide and a promotional leaflet, ease the task of promoting the campaign and getting other organisations involved. The campaign toolkit provides step-by-step guidance on how to develop and run successful campaigns. As a new feature for this campaign’s edition, a social media kit is made available. It contains different messages accompanied by visuals and videos ready to be published on social media.
All publications on the topic are freely downloadable. Beloved Napo, a cartoon hero protagonist of short awareness-raising videos, also returns to this edition of the campaign with several Napo films covering the topic.
Maurizio Curtarelli, MSc, PhD, Senior Research Project Manager, Prevention and Research Unit, European Agency for Safety and Health at Work
Emmanuelle Brun, Project Manager, Prevention and Research Unit, European Agency for Safety and Health at Work
Competent university teachers for digital learning in OSH
PhD, Project Leader, VSB - Technical University of Ostrava, Faculty of Safety Engineering
With the COVID pandemic, digital learning became a reality not only in higher education. Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) field was highly affected because of the tight connection to the industry. Typical teaching approaches and methods, such as site visits, excursions, trainee programmes, project-based learning in companies, face-to-face discussions with OSH professionals, were disrupted. University teachers faced new challenges coming with digital era in OSH education and training. The OSHDIGIT project was an immediate reaction to experienced difficulties within the pandemic crisis. We aimed at building our competence in digital teaching. We had a strong motivation behind. We built on proven partnership from the RiskMan project. And we did it!
The OSHDIGIT project brought together university teachers and trainers (Technical University of Ostrava, Czechia; University of Minho, Portugal; Curtin University, Australia; AUVA, Austria; Stant Manufacturing, Czechia; ENETOSH) to learn and share together.
The main project objectives were to enhance digital pedagogic competencies of university teachers in OSH discipline by giving them practical guidance and training and to equip them with OSH e-resources and tools for the use in digital learning. It completely reflected our needs.
The three main outputs were developed:
OSH Digi Guides
Guides for teachers on OSH digital learning with practical tips & examples:
- Teacher´s tips for teachers
- Focus group summary report
- E-tools and copyrights guide incl. an interactive glossary of core terms
- Guidelines for the preparation of a successful webinar
- OSH and wellbeing guide for teachers addressing mental health and MSDs
- Guidelines for online PBL
- Platform for sharing existing e-knowledge on OSH for digital learning:
- Database of more than 300 teaching resources on OSH (games, quizzes, videos, ppt slides etc.)
- Enabling sharing and continuous co-development (administered by UMinho)
- Allowing to sort the e-resources by various criteria
- Built on MS Teams platform: SharePoint site
- WordPress tool for public access to the teaching resources
- Ready-to-use tools to support the teachers in digital learning:
- Instructional videos on Occupational hygiene measurements
- Training videos from real workplaces and XVR simulations
- Interactive presentations on current OSH topics
- Interviews with OSH professionals
Everything is publicly available for use. Visit the OshDigit website: https://oshdigit.vsb.cz/.
Our efforts do not end with the project. We continue … We are particularly interested in COIL (Collaborative Online International Learning) and BIP (Blended Intensive Programme) opportunities.
If you are interested in our activities, please get in touch: email@example.com.
VSB – Technical University of Ostrava, Czech Republic
AUVA - General Accident Insurance Institution, Austria
University of Minho, Portugal
Curtin University, Australia
Lucie Kocůrková, PhD, Project Leader, VSB - Technical University of Ostrava, Faculty of Safety Engineering