The aim of this project was to collect data relating to the changing nature of work being undertaken by WHS professionals in Australia
Work plays a central role in our society, with very strong links between employment and positive health outcomes. Changes to the sorts of work we do and how we work along with significant digital disruption raises a number of questions about the future of work and the impacts on society.
In response to some of these questions the Australian Government Department of Employment, together with the CSIRO, has been examining a range of data in relation to the future of work in Australia. This research has used meta data along with extensive consultation
across industry sectors to identify the impact of the fourth industrial revolution, towards a digital economy, on the Australian workforce. In addition, Safe Work Australia is a working with the CSIRO to examine the impacts of a changing work environment on work, health and safety (WHS). Results of these projects indicate potential impacts on the nature of WHS risks and therefore a change in the type of work required by WHS professionals.
In response to these findings, ASHPA (Australian Safety & Health Professional Association) identified the need to consult with members of the WHS related professions to improve understanding of the impact of the changes to the employment, industry profiles, and WHS risks, as identified by WHS professionals. ASHPA commissioned La Trobe University to explore the Future of Work for Work, Health and Safety Professionals and identify future professional development needs to meet any identified changes. The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society of Australia (HFESA), Safety Institute of Australia (SIA) and the Australian Institute of Occupational Hygienists (AIOH) professional associations jointly funded this project.
The changing nature of the physical, cognitive, and psychosocial hazards and subsequent risks within the workplace creates a new set of challenges for those engaged in designing and managing health and safety in the work environment. Anecdotal evidence suggests that:
traditional safety hazards managed by the WHS professionals are now better understood by workplace stakeholders, new risks are emerging as a result of the digital economy, and there are changes in the ways of working and industry profiles.
Associate Professor Jodi Oakman
La Trobe University
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