The changing nature of work is creating new health risks for staff and putting greater demands on occupational health and safety professionals, European research has concluded.
A study by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work has found that as the workforce changes and people’s work evolves, workplace health will become increasingly complex.
Agency director Hans-Horst Konkolewsky said workplaces were becoming more client- and knowledge-driven, rather than based on processes or manufacturing, in turn creating new issues and risks.
“Europe’s workforce has also been changing; it is ageing, less male-dominated, and more difficult to monitor, as it has spread out into small companies,” he warned.
“As a consequence, health issues have become more complex, and we need to find new ways to approach research and prevention.”
The difficulty of achieving a proper work-life balance was a growing concern, as was the rising proportion of households where both adults worked and had dependent older relatives.
The rise in less secure types of working, such as agency or contract work, part-time working and unsocial hours, was also having an impact on workers’ stress levels, the research found.
More research was needed to be carried out into psychological violence, it added.
Other concerns included musculoskeletal disorders and risks caused by dangerous substances. The rapid growth of nanotechnology, for instance, has led to exposure to nanoparticles, while exposure assessment and measurement methods were still very much at an experimental stage, said Konkolewsky.
Go to http://osha.eu.int/