26th February 2018

Future risk: Impact of work on health, safety and wellbeing

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Changing risks to health, safety and wellbeing must be better understood and improved, according to the British Safety Council.

The organisation commissioned a report about the future of work and wellbeing, which explored the changes that employers and employees are likely to experience over the next 20 years.

The public debate on the future of work mainly focuses on the likely shape of the workplace and the implications for both employees and employers.

When considering wellbeing issues, the discussion has centred on the present, rather than preparing for future challenges. Yet 11 million jobs are predicted to be lost in the next 20 years in the UK with the impact of automation on the workplace.

The report, called ‘Future risk: Impact of work on health, safety and wellbeing’ was carried out by RobertsonCooper researchers and focuses on the risks of changes to the health, safety and wellbeing of the workforce.

Professor Cary Cooper CBE, professor of organisational psychology and health at the University of Manchester and founder of RobertsonCooper, said: “We know that work is changing, which is why there is currently so much conversation about the future of work.

“However, we know less about the risks this might bring to the health, wellbeing and safety of employees, so it’s a challenge for businesses to prepare for this.”

The main themes explored by the report include needing to build resilience against new pressures and forms of stress on employees, updating regulatory systems to protect modern workers, understanding future risks and forward-thinking education as new jobs may require a wider variety of skills.

Matthew Holder, head of campaigns at the British Safety Council, said: “At a time when work is rapidly changing, whether through technological innovation or types of employment, there is an urgent need to have a more strategic view on what research says about the future of work and risk, and how these two issues are related.

“Future risk: Impact of work on health, safety and wellbeing tells us that the state of this research needs to improve if we are going to take action to enhance people’s physical and mental wellbeing.

“I’m also pleased to see the report go beyond this ‘call for more research’ and make concrete recommendations how Government, regulators, businesses and the trade unions, the educational system and organisations like the British Safety Council can act today to prepare us to face the risks of tomorrow.”

The report can be downloaded at britsafe.org/futurerisk-report