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The Changing World of Work and Occupational Safety and Health

Identifying emerging risks and taking preventive action against them

Today's working environment is the result of an ongoing process of change with no foreseeable end. The Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) observes these developments and analyses emerging changes in order to assess any impacts on the safety and health of workers in a timely manner.

Woman at the airport working on a laptop © Uwe Völkner, Fotoagentur FOX

It has always been a challenge for the field of occupational safety and health to expose the potential risks of new technologies or materials to workers in a timely manner and to develop protective measures. However, the speed, intensity and complexity of transformations currently taking place in the working environment can rightly be described as exceptional.

Our working society stands on the threshold of a massive revolution in production and working conditions, which is referred to as "Industry 4.0". One of the key drivers of this development is the digitalisation of work in a growing number of economic sectors. This is changing the allocation of roles between humans and machines, creating new safety problems and presenting workers with new requirements in terms of flexibility. This results in risks to, among other things, the mental health of workers.

In addition, the "changing world of work" also refers to a change in the employment structure at businesses. Workforces are becoming more diverse and, as a result of demographic change, above all older.

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Monitoring Working Conditions

BAuA systematically observes and measures changes and trends in the working environment and analyses their impacts on occupational safety and health. This involves not only monitoring the current situation but also observing any structural changes.

Find out more : Monitoring Working Conditions …

Flexibilisation

In the digital era, work became increasingly interconnected, more international and more flexible. Many workers are experiencing greater requirements for flexibility in terms of working hours, place of work, and forms of employment. Here, we outline potential consequences for the workers.

Find out more : Flexibilisation …

Demographic Change

Demographic change is resulting in ageing workforces. Within this context, the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) develops and communicates preventive measures and concepts in order to maintain workers’ health and capacity to work over their entire working life.

Find out more : Demographic Change …

Organisation of Tomorrow's Occupational Safety and Health

The changing world of work is accompanied by new requirements and stress factors for workers. It also alters the circumstances of existing structures and instruments of occupational safety and health, both in the workplace and on an industry-wide basis.

Find out more : Organisation of Tomorrow's Occupational Safety and Health …