THE world’s three past industrial revolutions evolved from the invention of the steam engine followed by the electrification and expansion of industries for mass production and then the digital revolution produced by computers and information technologies.
The 4th Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0) is being driven by the convergence of advanced technologies such as robotics, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, 3-D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, energy storage and quantum computing.
Industry 4.0 includes the digitisation of the manufacturing sector with embedded sensors in virtually all product components and manufacturing equipment, ubiquitous cyber-physical systems and analysis of all relevant data, and has the potential to disrupt almost every industry in every country.
Furthermore, it is evolving much faster and with greater impact than any of the three previous industrial revolutions.
Those in soon-to-be defunct jobs would need complete reskilling in terms of problem-solving, design thinking, leadership and collaboration, conflict resolution, and empathy.
Businesses would need to retrain their staff to pre-empt them for what’s coming, and educational institutions would need to change the way they deliver their curricula.
A recent report by Dell Technologies pointed out that 85% of jobs of the future don’t even exist yet. Ten years ago, we had
not heard of a cybersecurity analyst but it is probably one of the hottest jobs around now.
A 2017 study by McKinsey Global Institute on the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation on global economies, such as the United States, China and India, highlighted almost universal employment concerns.
Most jobs would be affected, particularly in sectors that rely on automation such as automotive, manufacturing and the fast food industry.
The spread of AI and automation would also require workers to quickly adapt to different roles within their current sector or risk facing unemployment.
This is a digital-first economic system, built for and powered by a young workforce.
Employers in all sectors must bring more automation to safety management compliance and make safety equipment smarter in line with Industry 4.0.
To support the transformation process under Industry 4.0, all parties would need to embrace the latest technology on occupational safety and health (OSH) and slowly discard the traditional ways of doing things, such as the paper-based process of manually inputting OSH data.
The latest advancements in connected safety technology would enable businesses to protect workers more effectively and help them achieve a competitive advantage by reducing many safety management-related costs.
For example, embedding personal protective equipment (PPE) with sensors or radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology could help speed up data gathering and improve accuracy and efficiency.
In response to these challenges, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) organised COSH 2018 and SciCOSH 2018. For COSH 2018, the theme was “Enhancing OSH in the New Digital Era” while for SciCOSH 2018 it was “Engaging OSH in Industrial Revolution 4.0”.
The themes were appropriate as we helped the participants discuss and share ideas on how to address the challenges posed by Industry 4.0.
Both programmes are the best platform for research discussion and implementation sharing on issues and promotion of Safety, Health and Environment as this biennial event would focus on the latest scientific researches on OSH including those that are relevant to Industry 4.0.
Participants also got the opportunity to learn from other countries including Japan, which has agreed to send experts from its National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (JNIOSH).
Participants also learnt how the latest technology is able to help protect employees more effectively through the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to check accident sites and laser scanners for investigations that require accurate three-dimensional reconstruction of workplace accidents.
Large companies like Petronas also shared their experience using the latest technology and comprehensive data to improve OSH and preserve the environment.
Last year, Malaysia unveiled its National Policy on Industry 4.0, known as “Industry 4WRD”, in response to the call for digital transformation of the manufacturing sector and its related services.
Industry 4WRD is a pivotal step as Malaysia seeks to strengthen its on-going structural reforms to become a developed nation that is equitable, sustainable and inclusive by 2025 or even earlier.
TAN SRI LEE LAM THYE
National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health
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