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What's Trending
(Source: Horizon Magazine, Dec 2018)
Robots are being programmed to adapt in real time

Scientists are designing robots that can respond to their environments on the fly and overcome obstacles without human intervention.  Using micro-data learning algorithms, researchers attempt to make these robots react adaptively to problems in real time, rather than going through a series of pre-coded algorithms. Possible applications include rescue missions from disaster zones and clean-up operations that are too hazardous for humans.

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Relevance: Currently, collaborative robots (cobots) operate within a safety limit in a shared workspace with human workers. Having this technology could potentially reduce the risk of an accident even if workers ventured into the cobot’s operating space.

WT2 (Source: ScienceDaily, Oct 2018)
New driverless car technology could make traffic lights and speeding tickets obsolete

Connected and automated vehicles are being developed to respond to driving conditions with little or no input from drivers. Other than helping people reach their destinations safer and quicker, researchers also found that connected vehicles use 20 percent less fuel than human-driven vehicles.

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Relevance: This technology could be used in workplaces to replace or augment existing traffic management systems. Long term cost savings from fuel would make this a viable option for companies operating with a large fleet of vehicles in their compounds.
Books from the WSH Institute Collection*
Changing Safety's Paradigms

Ron C. McKinnon

Safety Culture

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Health and Safety at Work - An Essential Guide for Managers

Jeremy Stranks

Workplace Safety

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Click here to access WSH Institute's e-books collection.

* The WSH Institute Collection is a compilation of WSH-related resources accessible to the public through our collaboration with the National Library Board (NLB).

OWL Highlights
Serious injury and fatality prevention: Perspectives and practices

This report looks at serious injuries and fatalities in the workplace and recommends a re-design of the classic Heinrich’s Safety Triangle, which comprises non-injury accidents, minor injuries and major injuries. By treating all minor incidents and near misses as if they have the same potential to result in a more serious injury or fatality, the authors suggested that the model diverts attention away from the incidents that have the most potential to result in something serious. Simply reducing minor injuries will not lead to a reduction of serious injuries and fatalities.

Based on literature reviews and interviews with SHE experts, a new prevention model that comprises precursors, recordable injuries, lost time injuries and fatalities was thus proposed. It builds on the notion that serious incidents with the potential for life-altering and life-threatening consequences have different precursors from minor injuries. Therefore, focus must be placed on the specific precursors, derived through gap analysis of work procedures and employee behaviour, that have the potential for serious injury and fatality prevention.

While the authors noted a strong connection between human performance and the prevention of serious injuries, they suggested that the focus should be on redesigning work processes rather than "fixing the worker". This makes safety less dependent on employee behaviour and more dependent on the safety management system.

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Theme: Workplace Safety
Date of Publication: November 2018
Source: Campbell Institute

Foresight on new and emerging occupational safety and health risks associated with digitalisation by 2025

With digitalisation gaining momentum in the workplace, this study seeks to develop future work scenarios and identify potential new and emerging WSH risks. Based on literature reviews and a delphi-like web consultation exercise with key thinkers (process where trends and drivers were ranked based on selections by participants), the study finds that digitalisation opens the door to new WSH challenges, particularly of ergonomic, organisational and psychosocial nature. The following are some of the identified WSH challenges:

  • While automation, remote interfaces and virtual reality (VR) for training purposes help to reduce workers’ exposure to hazardous substances, technologies such as 3D printing and bio-printing have the potential to increase workers’ exposure to a range of new substances, the hazards of which are not yet fully understood;
  • Exo-skeletons could assist workers with manual handling tasks and strenuous work, but an over-reliance on robots or exo-skeletons could have implications for workers’ physical fitness, resulting in the loss of muscle/bone density or joint flexibility;
  • Monitoring technologies including wearables can lead to issues of data ownership and performance pressure, which contributes to workplace stress;
  • Dependency on technology to spot hazards could make workers less likely to spot them should the systems fail; and
  • Changing business models and employment hierarchies, with more workers treated as self-employed and fall outside WSH regulations

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Theme: Technology and new ways of work
Date of Publication: November 2018
Source: European Agency for Safety and Health at Work

The interplay between supervisor safety support and occupational health and safety (OHS) vulnerability on work injury

Due to their immediate day-to-day presence and direct relationship with workers, supervisors wield significant influence over the safety-related behaviours of workers.

This study seeks to examine the impact of supervisor support and OHS vulnerability (defined as situations where workers receive inadequate protection from exposed hazards) on workplace injury and illness. Results from a survey administered to 2,390 workers in Canada showed that, independent of OHS vulnerability, workers were at less risk if they had a supportive supervisor.

These findings suggest that building supervisors’ capacity may form an important component of solutions to protect workers, especially in workplaces where it is challenging to reduce hazards or to implement organisational-level changes.

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Theme: Workplace Safety
Date of Publication: November 2018
Source: Safety and Health at Work

Work stress and risk of death in men and women with and without cardiometabolic disease: A multicohort study

Using data from seven cohort studies conducted in Europe, this study seeks to investigate if stress is a risk factor in cardiometabolic disease (diseases such as diabetes, heart disease or stroke). This is done by analysing the link between work stress and mortality in men and women with and without pre-existing cardiometabolic disease.

The results showed that the contribution of job strain to risk of death was significant in men with cardiometabolic disease, and is independent of lifestyle and other risk factors. Meanwhile, no evidence was found to associate job strain with a significant increase in mortality risk amongst working-aged women with cardiometabolic disease.

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Theme: Workplace Stress
Date of Publication: September 2018
Source: The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology

Useful Resources
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The Observatory for WSH Landscape (OWL) is a function of the WSH Institute. OWL serves to observe, analyse and communicate developments affecting WSH, and promote collaboration among researchers, policy makers and industries to advance WSH policies and practices.