OSH in the future: where next?

  • William Cockburn EU-OSHA


Since 2002 when the Community Strategy on Health and Safety at Work called on the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work to set up a Risk Observatory, EU-OSHA has worked to address the challenges presented by the changing world of work. As our society evolves under the influence of new technology and shifting economic and social conditions, our workplaces, work practices and processes are constantly changing. These new situations bring with them new risks and challenges for workers and employers, which in turn demand political, administrative and technical approaches that ensure high levels of safety and health at work. Changes that are underway due to digitalisation, for example, affect not only the tasks that make up jobs, but also the nature of work in terms of how it is organised and how it is managed and supervised. Digitalisation also provides important opportunities, whether through the automation of dangerous or monotonous tasks or facilitating the work of the labour inspectorate. Europe benefits from a comprehensive body of OSH regulations, but if the OSH challenges posed by the new world of work are to be managed and the opportunities realised, it is essential that social dialogue be at the centre of regulation, support and guidance, enforcement and monitoring.