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Safety risks in ‘fourth industrial revolution’ need new standards and regulation, says Lloyd’sThe ru

 The rush to embrace new “Industry 4.0” technologies in the manufacturing sector is creating new physical and psychosocial workplace risks that are not being adequately researched, claims a new report from the charitable arm of assurance and standards body Lloyd’s Register. 

OK Computer? Safety and Security Dimensions of Industry 4.0, says that the worker safety implications of new technologies – which often involve more intensive interaction between humans and machines – have been given inadequate attention in research to date. 

The report was launched by Lloyd’s Register Foundation at the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit held in Yekaterinburg, Russia, last month. 

It was collated by researchers at Policy Links, a spin-off from the University of Cambridge’s Institute for Manufacturing (IfM), who reviewed studies and policy documents produced by innovation agencies and researchers around the world.

The report argues that that there is a lack of focus on the possible risks associated with human-machine interactions, with more focus on cyber security and data breaches than on workers’ physical or psychological safety.

Overall the report calls for “an agenda for future action for the safe and secure adoption of 4IR [fourth industrial revolution] technologies in manufacturing”, which would require new skills, further research, and the development of “frameworks, regulations and standards”.

Updates of national regulatory frameworks for safety would also need to address employers’ liability, it says.

 

Knowledge gaps around the safety and security dimensions of these changes are prevalent amongst manufacturers

David Leal-Ayala, senior policy analyst, Policy Links

 

As examples of supportive frameworks, it cites programmes in Denmark and Italy, which provide employers with financial support to invest in facilities, machinery, equipment or training that reduces occupational health and safety risk.

As rising risk factors, it cites the interconnectedness of machines and processes, with sensors and actuators increasingly connected to each other and to the internet leading to configurable “smart factories”. 

At the same time, there would be a sharp rise in software content in both facilities and machinery, and new forms of work organisation, often based on algorithms. 

Among the emerging workplace risks it lists are new sources of physical risks and hazards, which could be “mechanical, electrical, or thermal, or arising from interaction with cobots”. 

There could also be long-term health risks from exposure to new hazardous substances, such as new materials used in digital production techniques or 3D printing, and psychosocial risks from new sources of work-related stress.

These might include performance pressures, constant oversight and reduced human contact. 

To address these, the report says that industry and government will need to develop new standards and certifications to assure the safety of new technological applications.

In addition, it foresees a need for new risk assessment and risk management methodologies, and new skills for risk prevention, with employers needing to conduct “comprehensive impact assessments” and undertake “participative work design”. 

David Leal-Ayala, senior policy analyst at Policy Links said: “4IR is leading to an increase in new forms of work organisation which involve more intensive interactions between humans and machines. 

“However, knowledge gaps around the safety and security dimensions of these changes are prevalent amongst manufacturers.

“This sector review comes at a crucial time. If we wish to achieve the full potential of the fourth industrial revolution and its technologies, all frameworks, regulations, standards and skills must be in place to support its uptake.”

Badr Al Olama, head of the organising committee for the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit, said: “The potential of fourth industrial revolution technologies is a game changer for the manufacturing sector, and in order to reach this potential, it is essential that we develop the right skills to master the implementation of these technologies.

“This means we also need to understand the associated risks and security challenges along the way. Our partnership with the Lloyd’s Register Foundation is built on the need to develop our knowledge of these challenges through a multi-stakeholder approach, which we hope will continue to encourage innovative technology that is changing the world as we know it.”

From: https://www.healthandsafetyatwork.com/news-and-prosecution/safety-risks-in-fourth-industrial-revolution-need-new-standards-and-regulation-says-lloyd-s
 
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