Monday, May 6, 2019

THE FUTURE OF WORK: THE WAY I SEE IT


I have reviewed a number of publications that have been done within this topic, the more I read, the more worrisome I become on how the landscape and overall complexion of the workplace structure we have been used to will be grossly be invaded and replaced with a whole new system which we are yet to fully understand or even know under which names they will come. This has been perceived globally as capable of altering the whole concept of decent work as defined by the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

From historical studies, it has become obvious that every 100 years gives birth to a new industrial revolution and each industrial revolution comes with its own changes and peculiarities to the workplace structure, work patterns with different levels of impact on employee’s health, safety and wellbeing. From the year 1700 to the year 2000, we all experienced 3 industrial revolutions that came with their own changes in the world of work but the year 2000 – 2100 which has been referred to as the 4th Industrial Revolution has been characterized with so much discussions based on the use of technology, robotic science, artificial intelligence, cyber operations and many more. This is the new collective concern.

The key drivers of the future of work are:

·         Technology
·         Globalization
·         Inequality
·         Climate Change

These will bring forth a big change in the global dynamics of work processes and techniques which will affect the worker, the work and the workplace. The first thing within the cycle of change in the new world work-order will be characterized with vulnerability of certain kinds of jobs, mostly routine jobs that are not cognitive based. According to the survey of Deloitte with MIT, “70% of business leaders believe they need a new mix of talents and skills in the future of work”. So, the earlier we all realize the need to acquire new sets of skills, competencies and qualifications, the better our copping capabilities within the new work space, this is called “Future Proofing” your job. According to Fray and Osborne of Oxford Martin School, “Technology and workplace automation will bring 57% of jobs globally under high level of vulnerability”, what this means is that any job that can be automated may have no place for a human being but their robot counterparts, in the words of Richard Baldwin, “there will be a shift of job from human hands to human heads”. Surprisingly, data shows that over the past 10 years, there has been relatively very little growth in a number of routine jobs when compared to the non-routine jobs, these jobs might all be replaced with technology in the future of work. Technology will take away the word “Decency” from decent jobs, outsourcing without a proper employment contract with good coverage and social protection will characterize this new work age. Another item that will be so evident is the presence of “Free Agent Jobs” working multiple jobs for lower pay and working beyond the traditional retirement age. It has been estimated that by 2020, workers from their teens to their 70s or beyond maybe working side by side, dramatically altering the social fabrics of workplace traditional approach. This brings to mind the issue of change in demography and ageing workforce. In Europe today, 35% of those who go to work are neither employees nor work full time, they all mostly free agents on part time.

There exists the growing concern of “Job Apocalypse” where robots will take over the jobs ordinarily done by human, there is going to be a high level of job loss for those who are mostly middle men and those who are not prepared for the future of work. We will record a high level of switching occupation for those who were able to subject themselves to learning new skills. In all these, a number of concerns are also being raised on the growing challenge to train people of the jobs of today for the jobs of tomorrow. According to Mckinsey in his publication - Jobs lost, Jobs Gained: Workforce Transition in Time of Automation “75 million to 375 million people may need to switch occupation by 2030 due to automation”.

Globalization

When the world was smaller, we had less information to deal with than we have today through globalization. The work of Stevenson Farmer, published in Deloitte Workplace and Mental Health Review, it was stated that 25 years ago, we process less information in one year, than we are currently processing in one day. Algorithms, big data are a number of key areas that will contribute to mental health burden among workers in the future of work. As much as technology increases the flexibility of work, it also elevates the level of stress in workplaces. Collaboration among global teams, this means people are working across different time zones creating intrusions on evenings and even weekends leading to mental drain and rest time disruptions. Workers are bound to suffer loneliness and alienation due to loss of traditional safety nets, there will be growing need to address work-family balance and increased threat to workers’ health. The Spanish siesta and the 35 hours French work week are currently under threat by technology and globalization.

The growing demand on the need to work round the clock will become so imminent, it is important to take into cognisance that humans cannot work at same frequency and duration as robots. It is suspected that employers will make demand on making workers stay longer hours at work disregarding the 40 hours a weekly work schedule as recommended and advocated by the World Health Organization (WHO). It is sad to know, when robots take over, someone has to be their slaves.

Robotic Replacement

As many jobs go under global threats by robots, there will also be the growing apprehension among employees on job insecurity, it has been documented by some scholars that Robot will not stop at taking over routine jobs rather they will keep advancing into management and senior management positions as technology advances further. According to Martin Ford in his book – The Rise of the Machines “The robots have not just landed in the workplace – they are expanding skills, moving up the corporate ladder, showing awesome productivity and retention rates and increasingly shoving aside their human counterparts. One multi – tasker robot, from Momentum Machines can make a gourmet of hamburger in 10 seconds and could soon replace an entire McDonalds crew”. This rather sounds so scaring.

So, it is so obvious that the level of job displacement through technology and robotic science could be more than we had anticipated. Currently, traditional secretaries are being replaced by voice mail, sales people and customer service representatives are being replaced by websites and as artificial intelligence improves, drivers are being replaced by electric cars that are driverless. Even dispatch riders have drones to contend with. In the early days of publishing, Lithographers were very important in the publishing industry but at the advent of computers that can highlight wrong spellings and make corrections, Lithography profession became a victim of that technological advancement. That profession today has gone into extinction just like the draughtsmen in building industry who were displaced by auto card designs. In a global world we live in today, you do not need to have your materials filed and saved in your office or country, you look for where it is less expensive using cloud technology.

Japan, in the early 80s was the major robotic science country in the world but the government’s policy was, create technology to do the work but human beings must be retained and ensure there are no job lose. It is obvious this will obviously not be the global work policy in 2030 “Robot Took My Job” might be the cry of many employees who will be affected by the robotic apocalypse.

In today’s world, Honda, the makers of ASIMO Robots are already waiting to deploy robots to coffee shops and eateries to take over jobs hitherto done by humans. Yaskawa, makers of Motoman Robots are already positioned with robots that are capable of making burgers and other confectioneries, these all will lead to mass retrenchment (job apocalypse) in these sets of sectors that have huge work population.

During the full automation or robotization of workplaces, there will be increasing use of energy, organizations will have the need to power their offices 24/7 and most times with the light on and machines running continuously, this will further contribute to global warming and become counterproductive towards the objective and overall goal of climate change programs.

When management of the workplace and work pace becomes the responsibility of robots, they will run employees out of steam because the reverse becomes the case. In the world-of-work we had, men were the ones driving the machines but in the future of work, machines are the ones to drive men and this will leave us all with a very high burden of Occupational health burden. In the world-of-work we had, there were blood on the milling floors but the future of work will be so injurious to man and no blood will be seen. Mental health illness is not an open wound that can be sutured or dressed with plasters, it hurts and slowly torments these employees beyond what anyone can imagine. This is the future of work.

I was watching a video on Youtube channel titled “Detroit Become Human”, there was a robot called Chloe that was being interviewed and was very articulate in answering all questions asked. But amazingly, she gave credit to the intelligence of the humans who designed her and one thing was important in her response, she said “they have something which I can never have” and the interviewer said, what is that? Chloe said, a soul. The point I want to draw from here is that it takes compassion to manage people properly and taking into consideration their peculiarities and differences, this is what robot may not be able to do when they invade the workplace. The Health, Safety and Wellbeing of workers will be adversely affected.

I am a Vision Zero profiled advocate, each time I look at the future of work, the question I ask myself is where is Safety, Health and Wellbeing? How will these trio look like in the future of work?

In my next publication, I will be looking at “Vision Zero and The Future of Work”, I am sure you wouldn’t want to miss this.

Ehi Iden
ehi@ohsm.com.ng


Thursday, January 10, 2019

THE NIGERIAN FOOD INDUSTRY: FOOD HANDLERS' ASSESSMENTS MISCONCEPTION ON HEPATITIS


We welcome you all to 2019 partnership across our product lines. The world has become so connected that you do not need to have physical offices set up in multiple locations in your quest to broadly reach your clients across different geographical markets. 

Kindly take a look at our services, should have need for this across Nigeria, please flag us urgently and we will also appreciate referrals in 2019.

Let me quickly share a number of concerns we are currently addressing in the Nigerian Food industry in the area of Food Handlers' Health Assessment. There currently exists a number of confusion and misconception on the types of test necessary for food handlers’ medical examination but most importantly is the confusion within the streams of Hepatitis testing. We first need to understand that we have different types of Hepatitis namely, A, B, C and D, they are all infectious diseases but they are not all food borne diseases. The only food borne disease infection concern amongst these streams of Hepatitis is the Hepatitis A and this is the only Hepatitis test we should include in our food handlers health assessment. 

We have inspected facilities where we noticed people keep doing Hepatitis B or C or a combination of both but leaving out the major industry concern which is the Hepatitis A. We have been educating food business operators mostly hotels in Lagos, Nigeria on the right spectrum of test most importantly the requisite Hepatitis type A as an integral part of food handlers’ medical examination done every 6 months. Recently, during my ISO 22000 Food Safety Systems Certification (FSSC) Auditor's training, i came across the regulatory requirement by NAFDAC which simply says "Hepatitis test" and was not specific on the type of Hepatitis, i realized where the confusion was coming from. We are currently engaging them on that discussion now and the need to specify the Hepatitis type so that people have a clear instruction of what the regulation requires.

For the food industry operators, it is good and very important to have your food safety processes in top shape and well documented. Do the right thing at the right time and in the right manner. Should you have indictment from client that have eaten your food and turned in for food poisoning, your first line of defense is your safe food processes and documentation. We advise in addition to the right food handlers’ medical assessment processes, you need to implement the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) processes which is a very useful tool in food industry. Remember, you cannot afford to be found on a position of compromise when you are dealing with public safety mostly in the area of food. Food poisoning if not urgently and adequately managed can kill within a short time, you do not want to be responsible for the death of a client who patronized your business out of absolute good intentions. There are many instances where litigation came up and many food operators across the world were fined and penalized so heavily to the extent that some of such business were forced to close down at the weight of such heavy fines. This is not good for business sustainability and continuity. Inserted below are links to some of such infractions and litigation and fines accordingly.

Let me quickly also add here that Hepatitis B testing amongst workers in food industry is not totally irrelevant because that is an infectious disease that is transmitted through blood and other potentially infectious materials (OPIM). We advocate for Hepatitis B program as a separate stand-alone program on preventive health in food industry instead of inclusion into the food handlers medical examination. It should be mandatory for all employees and not just food handlers only and there should be immediate vaccination after testing for non-positive outcomes. This is capable of covering people who are exposed to sharps and body cuts within such workplaces where the use of shared sharp objects and equipment are on the high side.

Improving workplaces and ensuring employees are confident to come to work with the hope of returning to their families unharmed, uninfected or killed needs more leadership commitment and support than pointing accusing fingers at employees when things go wrong. Blame game is counterproductive, leadership accountability when things go wrong improves systems and keeps workers safe. We need to strive for the right kind of leadership that sees safety of employees as an overarching indicator to his own safety and business profitability.

We wish you a great year ahead until we come your way again. Do not forget to visit our website www.ohsm.com.ng for more information about us. We also need you to visit www.oshafrica2019.com for information about the forthcoming OSHAfrica conference holding on 18 - 12 September 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Register to be a part of this historic event and also send in your abstracts, we will love to listen to you present a paper at this conference.

You can reach me using ehi@ohsm.com.ng












Friday, January 5, 2018

THE NEED TO FIRST KEEP HEALTHCARE WORKERS SAFE IN ACHIEVING PATIENT SAFETY

I really need us all to take out time to read this article on depression and mental health issues amongst Physicians leading to Homicide and Suicide.
We have continuously advocated for the health and safety of the healthcare workers who in recent times have had to deal with chronic psychosocial hazards which have characterized their professions. Healthcare workers are emotionally overdrawn, the tasks are increasing, expectations are getting higher, diseases and infections trends are constantly mutating yet there is existing global shortage in supply of healthcare professionals, so we overuse the ones that we have available. Most of them have given all that they have, there is nothing left but demands are still being made on them. We must first understand that you were already a human being before you became a Physician, a dutiful Nurse and what have you in the healthcare sector. So we must admit to our fallible state and understand we are also ordinary human beings.
No one looks towards the mood change of a healthcare worker, no one knows if a healthcare worker is sick or not, even healthcare leaderships have not even helped this trend. Everyone is constantly being overworked and overused, nurses are becoming victims of road crashes on their way home after long hours of horrible night shifts, Doctors are being subject to Physical abuse and violation by patients and patients family, where does this lead us?
We need to first humanise medical training, residency is brutal with chronic sleep deprivation and human right violations. These toughness and stiffness do not make a good Doctors but we create a psycho out of them before they even leave medical schools. Studies have said 75% of Medical Students are on Psychiatric drugs to scale through medical schools. The need for us to start speaking out is sacrosanct, our collective silence nearly guarantees our suffering will continue.
A number of healthcare workers mostly Physicians nearly have time to spend with their families, they are working 100+ hours weekly hence the rate of failed marriages amongst Physicians in the United States has become critically disturbing.
Very recently on 29th December 2017 a 43 old Doctor named Zhao Bianxiang, a respiratory illness specialist in China collapsed and died in front of her patient after working 18 hours straight shift.
I really think we all need to do something about this, the work schedule of healthcare workers have changed drastically for the past two decades leading to overwork, overload and overdraw resulting in medical errors, cheap mistakes and preventable patients harm and even death. We must remember, healthcare facilities were already workplaces before they became centres where patient seek treatment.
We can not stop these all in one day, when start off the dialogue, it will point at policy review which I am sure will save our people (patients and care givers).
Our continued silence has been perceived as approval, let's SPEAKOUT.
My hope is that this honest obituary allows us to begin an honest (and long overdue) conversation about mental health.
KEVINMD.COM

Friday, December 22, 2017