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


Every single day, 7,500 people are estimated to die as a result of working in unsafe and unhealthy conditions worldwide.² And while in June 2022, the International Labour Organization (ILO) adopted a “safe and healthy working environment” as one of its five fundamental principles and rights at work, it is clear that this aspiration remains out of reach for many workers.

In the coming years, many aspects of our working lives are expected to change. The future of work will present significant challenges to workers globally, but it will also introduce opportunities to improve their health, safety and wellbeing.

For instance, climate change and associated extreme heat and weather events such as flooding and wildfires will increasingly be recognised as a health, safety and wellbeing issue. But simultaneously, new technologies have the potential – if designed, managed, and implemented safely – to transform how work is planned and conducted, eliminating hazards, reducing harmful exposures, and attenuating unsafe working conditions.

This report explores the diverse trends and developments regarding the future world of work, including redefined employment models and working patterns, sustainable business and the changing needs and expectations of workers.

The future risks, challenges and opportunities for health, safety and wellbeing are considered, such as physical worker health and the use of data to improve outcomes for workers. Lastly the evolution of the occupational safety and health (OSH) profession is discussed, including the application of systems thinking, perspectives on regulations and standards, and future skills requirements.

The purpose of this report is to support the OSH sector to become more forward thinking; to prepare and take timely action towards a safe and healthy future of work. The report concludes with calls to action for government, business, OSH professionals and the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) itself to improve the future health, safety and wellbeing outcomes of all workers.

Daily global deaths due to unsafe working conditions (ILO 2019)3

Diagram of global deaths due to unsafe working conditions