Arup report maze Towards a safe and healthy future of work Evolution or revolution?

Calls to action

The changes expected in the future world of work will have broad implications for the health, safety and wellbeing of all workers.

Governments, businesses, OSH professionals and IOSH all have an important role to play in shaping positive health, safety and wellbeing outcomes, eliminating hazards, reducing risks, harmful exposures and unsafe working conditions, and enhancing the wellbeing of workers.

A critical and foundational call to action is to ratify and effectively implement ILO Conventions and Recommendations in every country, so these recommendations can succeed in their intentions to protect workers against sickness, disease and injury related to the work environment.

Once ratified, they will ensure OSH frameworks, legislation, national OSH plans and policies are in place to protect labour, social protections, and worker rights in a systemic manner. This in turn will create a societal culture where safe, healthy working conditions and working environments are expected across the world of work, businesses of all sizes, in all employment models and in all working patterns.

For governments

A regulatory approach to systemic issues and risks

  • ILO member states must ratify ILO OSH Conventions* and uphold, reinforce and promote Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work including ‘a safe and healthy working environment’.
  • Protect and preserve human rights, decent work, worker protections, ethics and security regarding new and emerging hazards related to climate change, the green transition and technologies such as AI using the scope of ILO Convention No.155.
  • Build and strengthen national OSH capacity and pathways to good mental health and psychosocial risk management in business, OSH systems and occupational health services.
  • Review, and where necessary, update regulatory frameworks to ensure the changing risk profile of OSH is addressed. For example, considering OSH climate risks and mental health in the workplace.
  • Equip workers with the necessary OSH awareness, knowledge and skills to build positive and proactive cultures, and a healthier and safer future generation of workers. This can be achieved through education, vocational training programmes and lifelong learning.

* ILO fundamental OSH Conventions: C187 Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health (No. 187) and C155 Occupational Safety and Health (No. 155) as well as other core OSH Conventions including C161 Occupational Health Services (No. 161).

For business

A blueprint for better business

  • Better understand the structural enablers and barriers to attracting and retaining a diverse and inclusive workforce, protect vulnerable workers and address the unique OSH needs of different worker groups.
  • Support sustainable development, the UN Sustainable Development Goals and national targets. Apply recommendations from IOSH’s ‘delivering a sustainable future’ report1 to identify, activate and measure a business’s contribution towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals through good OSH.
  • Identify and address existing and emerging OSH risks and opportunities across all parts of the supply and value chain, including SMEs.
  • Deliver operational excellence by incorporating effective OSH management into organisational strategies, plans and business continuity and recognising the strong connections between physical safety and psychological safety. Focus the cultural and leadership behaviours that enable workers to feel safe as well as be safe.
  • Collaborate widely on standards, practices, approaches and policies, share evidence and insights, and be a learning organisation that adapts to addresses complex and increasing issues associated with OSH principles and practice such as ethics and inequity.

For OSH professionals

Deliver change on the ground

  • Contribute to, support and implement socially sustainable work practices and standards within procurement, across supply chains and in OSH management systems.
  • Argue for and support the implementation of evaluation and control strategies regarding climate change-related occupational hazards.
  • Argue for safety-in-design, health-in-design, and human-centric approaches within new and emerging technology advancements.
  • Support the development, application and recognition of training, skills, knowledge, innovations, technologies and experience from other contexts, sectors, regions and organisations to provide better outcomes for worker health, safety and wellbeing.
  • As the role of the OSH professional evolves, take individual responsibility for championing new approaches and advancing continuing professional development, competencies, and improved skills. Including the ability to pilot and evaluate emerging technologies, data analytics, ‘soft’ skills, critical thinking, systems thinking and ethical decision making.


Make working life better

  • Work alongside international partners including the WHO, ILO, UN Global Compact, and the Commonwealth to harness the collective energy of progressive businesses and make a long-term commitment to driving forward social sustainability.
  • Define universal OSH metrics that will enable businesses to measure, disclose and continuously improve their social sustainability.
  • Commission and share primary research on emerging issues related to OSH and occupational health services to support the promotion of a safe and healthy working environment as a fundamental principle and right at work.
  • Identify and define the skills needed for future workers, and continue to equip the OSH profession through a competency framework, content and tools fit for the future world of work.
  • Broaden and define the boundaries and position of OSH and the OSH profession, influencing the value of the profession in the changing world of work. Facilitate connections at key points of intersection such as sustainability, occupational health and worker wellbeing.