Health and Safety Report
Volume 17, Issue 02

On Topic

Keeping Up Safely With Technologyprint this article

It took the telephone 75 years to reach 50 million people, and the television 13 years. Facebook took 3.5 years and the Pokémon Go game took 19 days to hit 50 million downloads worldwide. Given this trend, the world is on track to change more in the next 20 years than it has in the previous 100.

Technologies have always had an undeniable impact on our lives, and that includes the jobs and work we do. Imagine how differently the world would have developed without the lightbulb, internal combustion engine, or computers. Experts agree that a Fourth Industrial Revolution is taking place, building on the digital technology advancements of the previous revolution that began in the 1900s. This new revolution is marked by emerging technologies in a number of fields, including artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, nanotechnology, and 3D/4D printing.

Artificial intelligence is an area of computer science that emphasizes the creation of intelligent machines that can work and react flexibly to the environment like humans, performing tasks such as problem-solving, making decisions, and being able to manipulate and move objects. We’re already experiencing these changes in our everyday lives via cashier-less store checkouts, self-serve kiosks, and mobile ordering. It’s not unusual to walk into a fast food restaurant and leave in a few minutes with lunch in hand made by an automated food preparation process.

In the world of work this has already led to many innovations, from assembly line robots to driverless cars, to warehouse automation. These innovations offer many opportunities. They remove workers from having to perform hazardous or monotonous jobs. They can improve productivity. Human-enhancement technologies can mean access to work for a more diverse workforce. We can also use them to monitor health and safety conditions more closely and improve inspection and hazard assessment processes.

For instance, autonomous work vehicle technology assisted a division that manages wildland firefighters in Colorado, US. These firefighters carry approximately 60 pounds of equipment, including chainsaws and water packs, through steep terrain, tiring them before they even reach the fire. The vehicle transported supplies, equipment and water by autonomously following the firefighters, helping to relieve pains and strains and reduce potential injury.

At the same time there are challenges. Not every scenario can be anticipated, and unforeseen situations can still occur. Acceptance by workers may be slow or reluctant. Stress and social isolation could rise from increased automation and decreased contact with colleagues, leading to potential psychosocial issues. Then there are the security, privacy, and physical concerns brought on by different ways of performing work tasks.

Anticipating the challenges and opportunities

A foresight project from the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) examined the rapid workplace developments in digital technologies, including artificial intelligence and robotics, and the potential impact on workplace health and safety. The project aimed to provide decision makers, government, trade unions and employers in the European Union with the necessary information to make informed decisions on changes in digital technologies, their impacts on the nature and organization of work, and the emerging challenges they may bring.

Their report released in November 2018 identified several health and safety challenges, including:

  • the potential for automation to remove humans from hazardous environments, but also to introduce new risks with new interfaces and new processes
  • the growing importance of organizational factors such as pace of work, how work is performed, and how it is managed
  • increased work-related stress due to worker monitoring, 24/7 availability, and blurred work-life boundaries
  • increased ergonomic risks from working constantly with online devices, often in non-office environments
  • the growing number of workers who fall outside traditional definitions of employees and existing health and safety laws
  • Loss of worker control due to data protection issues, performance and productivity pressures, and automated management
  • More frequent job changes and longer working lives means ongoing training and education is necessary

Some possible health and safety strategies suggested through the project’s follow-up review, surveys and discussions include advanced workplace risk assessments using wearable and big data technologies, clarifying health and safety liabilities and responsibilities, and taking a proactive worker-centred approach when incorporating digitalization in the workplace. Preparing workers for new tasks and ways of working will be critical and employers need to ensure that workers receive ongoing health and safety training to keep pace and to keep safe.

Futurist Nikolas Badminton will be delivering a keynote on what we can expect the world of work to look like in the years ahead at the upcoming CCOHS Forum, taking place March 5-6 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Learn more.


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Health and Safety Report articles:

In the News

A Week in March to Support and Celebrate 'Safe & Strong Farms'print this article

On average there are more than 100 agricultural deaths per year in Canada, making it one of the most hazardous industries in which to work, according to the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association (CASA). This year during Canadian Agricultural Safety Week from March 10-16, you can help raise awareness about farm safety by sharing tips, stories, and photos on social media.

Canadian Agricultural Safety Week (CASW) is a campaign held the third week of March of each year to celebrate farm safety across the country. Under the three-year campaign of Safe & Strong Farms, the week aims to empower farmers, farm families and farming communities to build, grow, and lead the agricultural industry in safety and sustainability. 

CASA encourages you to participate by using the hashtag #AgSafeCanada in your social media posts. Content ideas include:

  • Farm safety content that an organization you work with has produced.
  • Tips on how you manage safety on your farm or ranch.
  • Promotion of community events during CASW.
  • Photos of farm safety in practice.
  • Testimonials on why farm safety is important to you.

CASA is a national non-profit organization dedicated to improving the health and safety of farmers, their families, and agricultural workers. For more ideas and resources, visit the Canadian Agriculture Association Safety Week website.


Resources from CCOHS:

Partner News

New Website to Prevent Occupational Disease Launchedprint this article

Occupational diseases are health conditions such as cancer, musculoskeletal disorders, and respiratory diseases caused by exposure to hazardous substances or environments in the workplace or as part of work activities. Recognizing and preventing occupational disease presents unique challenges, and requires the elimination or reduction of hazardous exposures, and the control of risks.

CCOHS has teamed up with the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers (OHCOW) to create the Prevent Occupational Disease website, an online clearing house of current and credible occupational health disease resources from Canada and around the world.

Occupational disease is common and results from exposure to chemical, biological and physical agents in the workplace. According to the Association of Workers' Compensation Boards of Canada (AWCBC), there were 592 occupational disease deaths in Canada versus 312 traumatic fatalities in 2016, and the rate is increasing in most provinces.

Protecting workers starts with identification and prevention. The website, aimed at reducing illness and fatalities associated with occupational sources, can help employers, supervisors, safety and health practitioners, and workers increase their understanding of occupational diseases and ways to prevent them.

The resources provided on the new website relate to the science and mechanics of prevention; common hazards and their identification, exposure assessment and control; specific occupations and industries where the risk of developing occupational disease is higher; and internationally recognized occupational diseases including cancer, respiratory and skin diseases, and musculoskeletal disorders.

Prevent Occupational Disease will be continually updated with new content and welcomes relevant submissions of free, accessible, non-commercial resources from around the world through its online form.

Visit the website:

Health and Safety To Go

Podcasts: Bullying in the Workplace: 6 Tips for Preventionprint this article

This month’s featured podcast is Bullying in the Workplace: 6 Tips for Prevention and an encore presentation of Understanding Workplace Concussions

Feature Podcast: Bullying in the Workplace: 6 Tips for Prevention

Bullying in the workplace is recognized as a serious problem that can cause undue stress, anxiety, and low morale among workers. In this episode, the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) lists types of bullying behaviour, the psychological impacts it can have, and provides tips for prevention.

The podcast runs 4:28 minutes.  Listen to the podcast now.

Encore Podcast: Understanding Workplace Concussions

Concussions can occur anywhere, including in the workplace. Statistics reveal that there has been an increase in the number of time loss claims for work-related concussions. This podcast provides tips and information to help understand concussions and how to manage them in the workplace.

The podcast runs 6:00 minutes. Listen to the podcast now.


CCOHS produces free monthly podcasts on a wide variety of topics designed to keep you current with information, tips, and insights into the health, safety, and well-being of working Canadians. You can download the audio segment to your computer or MP3 player and listen to it at your own convenience... or on the go!

See the complete list of podcast topics. Better yet, subscribe to the series on iTunes and don't miss a single episode. Listen on Spotify.



See You in Winnipeg at the Forumprint this article

There is still time to register and join us at The Changing World of Work Forum, taking place March 5-6 in Winnipeg. Explore and understand how developments in technology, work culture, job design, demographics, and the environment are all affecting the way we work.

The Forum is a single session stream of 12 presentations with networking opportunities that allow you to dive deeper into topics and connect with change makers and subject experts from across Canada. There is no other health and safety event like this in the country.

Watch the Forum 2019 Video.

Make a plan to attend and don’t miss out on this unique knowledge exchange - we can’t wait to see you there!

CCOHS Members save 5-10% on the price of registration.

There are a few spots left – REGISTER NOW.

Learn more:

Last Word

Mark Your Calendars for Upcoming Health and Safety Eventsprint this article

National Day of Mourning April 28

April 28th is National Day of Mourning in Canada.

This day is set aside to pay tribute to those workers across Canada whose lives have been lost, injured or disabled on the job, or who suffer from occupational diseases. The Day of Mourning is an opportunity for employers and workers to not only remember but also to publicly renew their commitment to preventing work-related injuries, illnesses and deaths and making workplaces safe and healthy for all.

Show your commitment with the new bilingual commemorative pin, posters and stickers.


Steps for Life Walk Kicks Off April 27

Beginning April 27, 2018 in cities across Canada, the Steps for Life 5 KM Walk will start the warm up for Health and Safety Week. The event is not only fun, it also helps spread the message that workplace injuries and illnesses are preventable. Steps for Life is the major fundraising event for Threads of Life, a national charitable organization dedicated to supporting families along their journey of healing who have suffered from a workplace fatality, life-altering illness or occupational disease.

On May 5th, our CCOHS team will once again be walking in the Hamilton event along the shores of Lake Ontario. Dates and times for the walks vary across the country. Find the one closest to you and put your team together. It will be a day to remember.

Learn more about how you can participate on the Steps for Life website.


Safety and Health Week May 5-11

Organizations all over North America are planning their activities for Safety and Health Week (previously known as NAOSH Week). It is a time in which attention turns to the importance of preventing injury and illness in the workplace, at home and in the community. You can post your event on the Safety and Health Week website or find an event close by to participate in. CCOHS will be in Saint John, New Brunswick, at the national launch to announce the Focus on Safety Youth Video Contest national winners. All of the videos from youth across the country will be available online. Why not have a film fest to view these informative, creative videos? Stay tuned for further details on how CCOHS can help you celebrate Safety and Health Week in your workplace.

Download Safety and Health Week posters and spread the word on social media using shareable images.


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