Occupational health and safety in the industry 4.0 era: A cause for major concern?

Real-time communication, Big Data, human–machine cooperation, remote sensing, monitoring and process control, autonomous equipment and interconnectivity are becoming major assets in modern industry. As the fourth industrial revolution or Industry 4.0 becomes the predominant reality, it will bring new paradigm shifts, which will have an impact on the management of occupational health and safety (OHS).
In the midst of this new and accelerating industrial trend, are we giving due consideration to changes in OHS imperatives? Are the OHS consequences of Industry 4.0 being evaluated properly? Do we stand to lose any of the gains made through proactive approaches? Are there rational grounds for major concerns? In this article, we examine these questions in order to raise consciousness with regard to the integration of OHS into Industry 4.0.
It is clear that if the technologies driving Industry 4.0 develop in silos and manufacturers’ initiatives are isolated and fragmented, the dangers will multiply and the net impact on OHS will be negative. As major changes are implemented, previous gains in preventive management of workplace health and safety will be at risk. If we are to avoid putting technological progress and OHS on a collision course, researchers, field experts and industrialists will have to collaborate on a smooth transition towards Industry 4.0.

Source: Badri, A., Boudreau-Trudel, B. et Souissi, A. S. (2018). Safety Science, 109, 403-411.

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