Workplace injury to reduce with advancing automation

Robots and automation will make work safer and reduce workplace injury in Australia over the next 20 years, as revealed in a joint study by Safe Work Australia and CSIRO’s data innovation group Data61.

Physical workplace injury is predicted to fall by 11 per cent by 2030, as robotics such as artificial intelligence (AI) and drones replace dull, dirty and dangerous tasks. 

Research analyst at Data61 and co-author of the report Joanna Horton explained that along with the advance of digital technologies, the Australian workplace has also undergone significant structural and demographic changes, including a significant shift towards contract, temporary and freelance work in the general employment field.

This will pose new challenges in managing risks and supporting sick or injured workers, as fewer workers are covered by workers’ compensation. 

If these workers are not covered by the appropriate insurance, long-term implications on Australia’s public health and social security systems may be expected.

However, the extent of its impact is yet to be monitored in light of the recent increase in permanent mining roles observed by the job portal SEEK.

Other major trends that are triggered by new technologies and ways of working include rising screen time, sedentary behaviour and chronic illness, and rising workplace stress and mental health issues due to new and intensifying uses of digital technologies in the workplace.

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