The fourth industrial revolution and social innovation in the workplace

The fourth industrial revolution and social innovation in the workplace

2019 – In an essay Jeffrey Saunders wrote for the European Agency for Safety and Health (EU-OSHA) he states that the fourth industrial revolution and the rise of an ‘innovation society’ ask for new policy of gouvernments, companies, institutions and trade unions on safety, health and well-being of workers.

The new occupational safety and health risks are:       

  • ergonomic risks due to on-line working in non-office environments
  • risks associated with new human-machine interfaces;
  • cyber security risks;
  • increasing numbers of workers treated as self-employed.

There will be pressure on the working population to reskill and upskill on an ongoing basis. Employers, governments, trade unions, schools and training centers need to facilitate that.
Companies need to develop new policies to enable the motivation, engagement and well-being of their employees. And they will have to aim at a user-centered design of the workplace and management, that is to be developed participative and bottom-up. 

The author also points at the erodation of organizational barriers and the development of open, digital, agile and project-based organisations or ‘competitive eco-systems’ with on-line management. More and more organisations work with a group of low paid or non-paid starters or interns. They count on a low or non-paid reserve of young professionals.

There is developing a digitization on the labour market of ‘proficians’ and ‘precariats’; the first group are professionals of whom a part deliberately work independently and the other group are – mostly – low skilled flex workers. The well-being of the last group requires (new) trade unions and new trade union strategies to fight for their interests.

JeffreySaunders. ‘The fourth industrial revolution and social innovation in the workplace.’ (2019) European Agency for Safety and Health (EU-OSHA). Discussion Paper. The paper is attached.


Themes: Labour relations, new ways of working
Sector: n.a.
Source: Article