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Developing evidence-based and practical solutions for preventing harm in the workplace (Dr Gregory Zelic)

Dr Gregory Zelic explores the focuses of the Centre for Work Health and Safety and addresses the future of work.

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Chris Bombolas: Hello everyone, I'm Chris Bombolas, your MC for today. On behalf of Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, welcome to our special Work Well presentation.

I'd like to begin by acknowledging the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we meet today, and pay my respects to their Elders past, present and emerging. I'd like to extend that respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples watching today.

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I'm delighted now to introduce today's speaker, Dr Gregory Zelic. Greg kicked off his professional journey as an academic, teaching, mentoring, and exploring the edges of behavioural neurosciences for 10 plus years. He joined the public sector a few years ago, determined to commit his skills and efforts towards improving lives. Diving into the focuses of the Centre for Work Health and Safety, Greg will address the future of work in today's talk.

If you have any questions for him today, type them into the Q&A chat box on the right of your screen. We'll get to those during his presentation if necessary, otherwise we'll hold them off till the end of his presentation. Let's head down to Sydney and welcome in Greg from the Centre of Work Health and Safety. G'day Greg.

Dr Gregory Zelic: G'day Chris, thanks for this very nice introduction. Look, it's great to be here. Thank you to the organisation team to organise this. It's a lot of organisation, I appreciate it. I appreciate the opportunity to talk about the team and the good work that we're doing at the Centre for Work Health and Safety.

Before I start, I would also like to acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we all meet today. I come myself not from Sydney, but from Wollongong in New South Wales, and which was originally habited by the Dharawal people. I pay my respect to all Elders past, present and emerging and extend that respect to all First Nation people present with us today.

So the topic of the day is government research and data science, and I hope to make this as interesting as it can be really. As Chris mentioned, if you do have any question, ask them please as I go. So it gives me first a break, and also for you the opportunity to have a break from my very strong French accent. If not, I will keep talking for 45 minutes.

So today I will first talk about the Centre for Work Health Safety, what it is about, why we were created, and what we do, and how we do things. Then we spend a bit of time on the future world of work, what it means to us, and a bit of its challenges, but also the opportunities that it presents. And then we finish with the program of work of the Centre addressing the future world of work. And I will dive a little bit into that.

All right, the Centre. So we were created in 2017. So the Centre for Work Health Safety is an initiative of SafeWork New South Wales. This is the regulator of work health safety in New South Wales. And the initiative came out of two very strong observations that SafeWork did about research in work health safety. The first observation is that research in work health safety lacked specificity. Often the research was a byproduct of other research, so it was not the primary focus of the research.

And basically it failed to include the full range of perspectives that you can find in the work health safety sphere. And I mean the workers, I mean the designers, the business owners, the association of industry, and workers association, et cetera, et cetera. The issue with this is that if you don't see the full picture, then you only see part of it, and what you see is skewed. So what we needed there was a research that was entirely focused on work health safety, dedicated to the subject really.

The second observation from SafeWork is that research in work health safety lacked impact. I don't think that was specific to you, or that is specific to work health safety already, but traditional research is done in a way that the primary focus is to get, is the academic output. So, you know, basically the article that you publish in very prestigious journal, which is great, but from a business perspective or a regulatory perspective, what you want is a practical impact that this research has, right? And traditional research wasn't just impacting the day-to-day on the work site, right?

So what we needed here was a research that was primarily focusing on delivering practical output, things that will be taken away to directly prevent harm in the work sites, okay? And so that is why the centre was created in 2017, six years ago.

And look, how do we do things differently at the centre? I gave it away a little bit in the title, three keywords, solutions, evidence-based and practical. Solutions, this is because this is what we do. Like we develop, test and deliver solutions, all right? And this is the, the solution is the pointy end of a process that start with either a problem to solve or a need to address. So this means that our process start with a problem, a need that we identified, we able to identify and research data science is basically our methods to develop and deliver these solutions to this problem/need, okay?

The clients of our solutions, I should call them that way, businesses in Australia, particularly in New South Wales obviously, but also in Australia. So we deliver tools for businesses to directly use so that they can prevent harm directly in their workplace. I will give some example later of some of those tools, but also the regulators in Australia. So we work with SafeWork New South Wales, but the solution that we provide to SafeWork are applicable to other regulators in Australia, obviously. And so I'll give some example later on about the RADAR, I explain what it is about and a tool for getting the regulators ready for what's coming for the future world of work, okay?

Evidence-based, the second keyword, this is basically our method. So research and data science are not the primary focus of what we do. The primary focus, as I said before, is the solution. The research and data science, that's the way we get there. All right? Having this approach in general give us a lot of flexibility, but what we do in research or data science and how we combine them together, you know, what's most suitable to develop a solution to a problem. All right? So we don't focus on what's the academic output at the end of the process. We focus on what's best, basically, to deliver this solution that we want to deliver. All right?

Practical is perhaps the most important of these keywords. It's because whatever we do, we want it to be useful, usable, and used. Obviously, we have a process in place to be able to, for example, record the way our tools are being used.

I gave an example of this Easy-to-do WHS Toolkit that we published in October 2020. In one year, this toolkit had almost 200,000 hits on our website, almost 20,000 downloads, and 15,000 hard copy that were ordered by small business. So that's research that's not only insightful, it's research that's impactful. All right? And that's our point of difference.

My last slide about us is that how do we make this happen? How do we work? So we are a government entity, but we work a little bit different from other government entities that work in collaboration with academic partners. So we don't give a lump sum of money at the beginning of the process, and see you later, two years after, to understand the output. We have a project team within the centre that work hand in hand with our research partner. All right? We have contracts with them, a multi-phase contract. And so at each phase of the contract, what we do is what we call generally co-designs, that we look at what we've done and what we plan for the next phase is still appropriate or not, and if we need to change it, then we change it. Okay? So it's very flexible approach to maximise the suitability of the solution that we provide. Okay? So that's about us.

The future world of work now. We hear a lot about it, it's kind of a buzzword. I want to explain what I mean by future world of work. It's everything that's new emerging futures ways of working, you know? And as I see it, there are different ways that these new emerging future ways of working has been triggered.

It's either by a new technology. So today we're gonna talk a little bit about collaborative robots or cobots. We're also gonna talk about artificial intelligence systems that are being introduced and used in the workplace today. So that's a trigger, a new technology being, you know, introduced in the workplace.

A new type of work, you have on the photo there is, it's a food delivery rider. So here I will talk a little bit about task-based gig economy, whether it's food delivery, whether it's in-home carers as well. Both, you know, nowadays you have different type of works like, as you would know, based on influencers on social media platform, that's a job, you know? And that's a way to, that's a way to, during this life. So it's a new type of work that has emerged.

New practice as well, and that's related to things that existed but change over time. And flexible working is a good example. Working from home was happen before COVID, but since COVID is basically become the norm for office-based workers. And so again, like associative evidence there just triggered a new practice really, or the explosion of a practice.

All right, the history of the forklift. I brought this timeline here to show, to basically support some important point I want to make about new and emerging ways of working. The first point I want to make is that these are not the new things. Today we're talking about new and emerging ways of working. Fifty years ago, they were talking about it. In 50 years time, we still talk about it. Will still be a topic.

Fifty years ago, in the 1930s, the forklift was just invented, the first forklift. And then 10 years later, they basically standardised the size of the pallet. And that was a trigger for an explosion of the forklift on work sites. They were used everywhere. So from one year to the other, like, you know, we will see work forklift everywhere. And at the time that was a new way of working. All right, so it's a perpetual question, the question of new and emerging ways of working. That's my first point.

My second point is the safety gap. So if you look at the history of forklift, after the explosion of the use of forklift, eventually workers were carrying more heavy loads and bringing them to higher heights. And obviously, like the incidents are happening just increased dramatically. And so in the 60s, they started developing this forklift with the hover overhead and guard. And that was the first consideration of safety in the forklift sector, really. Later on, you will have, you know, traffic management consideration, et cetera.

So you have some kind of 30 years gap here between the explosion of the use of the forklift in the 30s and the first safety consideration in the 60s. Okay, obviously, as a regulator or work health safety professional, what we want to is to close this gap. You know, make sure that we have the safety solutions before the harms are created on a large scale.

Brings me to this slide about the challenges of new and emerging ways of working. So as I mentioned, we want to close this gap, this safety gap. But the difficulty for the regulator and the work health safety professional is that they are very difficult to anticipate. You know, we don't know what we don't know. We don't know what's going to be the next new ways of working or whether, you know, working from home, for example, is going to explode and become the norm. Nobody anticipated COVID.

The second challenge is that all these new and emerging ways of working, they lead to change in the work environment. Be it a change of the definition of work, a change of the different roles and responsibility in the workplace, a change in the processes, in the system related to health and safety. So the work environment is change. And we don't really know the implication of that change from a work health safety perspective. And for good reason, you know, we have new and emerging ways of working. They attracted limited scrutiny. So the knowledge bank about those is very thin.

You take electric vehicle for instance. We don't know much. We know a little bit of the harms that they create, but we don't really know much about future harm that we might create, et cetera, et cetera, because we have attracted limited scrutiny.

The last challenge is, are we still relevant? And that brings, that refers to whether the regulatory system that we have as a regulator or the safety system that you might have as a work health safety professional are still adopted or will continue to be suitable for regulating or managing the risk of these new and emerging ways of working. All right.

So that's our program at the centre to address the future world of work. And obviously, unique set of challenges that I just talked about. The three main axis in our program, the first one is get ahead of the game. What we want here is really better understand the work health safety implication of the new and emerging ways of working, all right? With the idea that obviously the earlier we understand the problem, the earlier we can design solution to it and the earlier we can offer solutions to businesses to already prevent harm before the emerging practice become something that is adopted at a larger scale.

The second program is more of an opportunity of the future. So we want to look at the future from an opportunity perspective really and leverage of this new technological development to create new solutions to old problems. Progress means that we can do today what we couldn't do necessarily yesterday. And we want to use that to explore opportunities to use this new technological development to better prevent harm that exists already.

And the last one obviously is reassess and prepare. That's for the regulators. So we want to support the regulator here in addressing the current generation of new and emerging ways of working. And we also want to support the regulator in preparing for the next generation of new and emerging ways of working, all right? So we discuss a bit of the work that the centre is undertaking under these three main axis of programs. All right.

Okay, so starting with, I'll get ahead of the game. Program of work. So the centre is leading a series of projects here examining the mechanism of harm prevention in the workplace of tomorrow. And what we want is to create new knowledge and tools to support this work environment. So I'm going to talk about two projects in particular. One about the artificial intelligence systems in the workplace and one about collaborative robots. Coots. These are not the only project that we have in this program. We're, very soon, we're going to complete a project on, I mentioned gig economy earlier, so to prevent harm towards in-home carers that have been engaged through gig economy platform. So that's the health sector of the gig economy.

AI. So artificial intelligence is obviously a big client of us. When you talk about the future, you talk about AI. So I'm not going to go through the introduction of what is AI and different type of AI system. And all these things, what I will say though is that there are simulation, a very strong simulation that by 2030, 70% of companies will have adopted at least one type of AI technology. So AI is barely a new thing. And it's on its way to be an integrated part of the workplace in different shape or form. Saying that, little is known about the harms, the risks that are created with the introduction and the use of AI system in the workplace. So that's our motto there.

So we partnered with the University of Adelaide, in particular with the South Australian Centre for Economic Studies there and the Australian Institute for Machine Learning. We also partnered with Flinders University of South Australia. And we did literature review, we did a series of consultations with AI experts, with work health safety professionals, policy makers, and people from organisation that had adopted AI or were considering adopting AI.

And the first thing that we wanted to do there is understand the risk that were associated with the use of AI in the workplace. And look as expected, as I mentioned earlier, this is not a topic that has attracted a lot of scrutiny. So we did not find a lot of evidence. It was not surprising. Most consideration about AI were towards ethical risk to consumer that had potential legislative or financial consequences on the business, right? But not much really from the perspective of the safety and the health of workers.

So through the project and the review and the consultation that were undertaken, we actually came up with the first registry of AI related risk to consider when you introduce and use AI system in the workplace. The second axis of this work was to understand as well the current practices in regard to managing work health safety for AI systems. And again, we did not find one typical model that were used by organisations. As a matter of fact, the risk were often the late consideration in those organisations due to the lack of support material. People just didn't know how to do it in the first place.

So that brings us to the third axis of this work, which was to develop something for business to use. So we developed a risk assessment tool to assist business in identifying first, assessing second and prioritising third, the work health safety risk that were related to the use and the introduction of AI system in the workplace. We call this the AI work health safety scorecard. It's available on our website. You can freely download it. It provides a list of work health safety risk that can be reviewed and prioritised in the context of your workplace. This is really what it looks like as a download. At the moment, we're working on the digitalisation of this. So it will be available in more user-friendly format, I would say.

So you can see, it's basically a list of risks. You can see there from risk one to risk seven. And all these risks are related to a certain stage of the development of AI from design to the application of the AI system in the workplace. And basically, as a business, you can have a look at all these risks and rate the potential consequence of this risk in your work site and the likelihood of this risk on your work site. And it gives you some kind of a priority list of risks that have high level of risk, really.

What we're doing now is working, actually, we completed this work, we're about publishing it, is working now on risk mitigation strategy to best manage those risks once you have identified them as a business. And again, this is not a work that can be done easily because AI is new, so the experts in the domain are quite new. So we had consultation with people across the world that were either or both, AI experts and work health safety professionals. All right.

The second project here, it's about cobots. So, look, similar background and the AI system, really. Cobots are just emerging, they're used already and there are projections that their use in the solution of cobots in the workplace is gonna explode in the next years or so. What's a collaborative robot? First of all, it's one of the type of robots that we'll find on the workplace, this particular type. The workers, the worker work simultaneously with the robot in a shared workplace. So various contact between the two and desired contact, there are other types of robots. And this is not within the scope of this project. You find cobots typically in task of pick and place, packaging, et cetera.

So we partner here with UTS and the Centre for Advanced Manufacturing School of Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering, that was a mouthful. Very smart people, they actually have a warehouse with a lot of different cobots, so they were able to do a lot of experiment on cobots on site. And we had a systematic evidence-based approach. It's a research approach, really. Basically, we did again, like a scan of the literature, what's available out there.

And most importantly, we consulted with all cobot stakeholders, manufacturers, distributors and suppliers, integrators, cobot users, potential cobot users, also subject matter expert and researchers, people that were working on this. What we've done is develop a holistic understanding of the work practice, really, so far, and the behaviours within the cobot industry. But also the potential risk and harm to workers. We also explore the different resources on safety measures that were already available and understand how the risk and harm were currently being addressed by organisations.

That led us to develop a series of guidelines. So we developed and we tested some guidelines. That covers across the entire life cycle of cobots, from design to the end solution and to use in the workplace. So these are the guidelines, as you can see. Look, these guidelines, they can be used, or again, you can freely download them on our website. They can be used at any visual documents. You can see what they are. There is a risk assessment tool similar to the AI one that I just presented. There is a safety checklist that you can use as a business. There are some guidance on designing a safe cobot workplace, and some guidance on safe human-cobot interaction. So different guidelines for different purpose.

All right, that brings us to the second program, which is using the future as an opportunity to create smarter solutions for old problems, right? So we want to leverage this new technology development and explore if there is any way to develop a solution for those problems that we had for a long time.

So I want to talk now about building information modelling. Building information modelling is not a new thing, but it has emerged really from the rise of digital engineering in the last few years.

BIM, as we call it, is basically a digital twin of a building, okay? And that's a 3D model-based process that maps the physical and functional characteristic of a structure. What it does is that it aids decision-making through the planning, the design, and the construction phases of the structure, but also in the ongoing management of the building and infrastructure, right? The benefits have been recognised worldwide. There is no doubt about it.

The fact, though, is that there is a gap. It has never been used, or it's very not well used, I should say, for the management of, or the continuous management of work health and safety. And the reason for this is that work health safety management is typically done outside of this kind of digital platform, outside of BIM, in more traditional non-digital platforms.

So we partnered with Torrens University and Western University on this project, and we explored the use of BIM for work health safety management, including the barriers, the enablers, and the potential benefits and consequences of moving from a traditional platform for managing work health safety to this kind of digital BIM platform.

The outcome of this was, the output, I should say, is that we developed a set of guidelines to enable work health safety management using BIM from the procurement phase. So that was one of the findings, that for this kind of building project, you need to make it happen from the procurement phase. It's very difficult to change from a traditional platform to a digital platform in the course of a project. So like you can see here, the different guidelines that are available to businesses to help with this process.

Second example of using new technological development to develop new solutions is exposure to respirable crystalline silica, so RCS. Look, this has attracted a lot of attention in media, especially in the last year. We've, you know, the increase of awareness of silicosis from workers that cut stones in particular. Look, there are controls available to prevent exposure to RCS, you know, wet cutting, ventilations, mask and hair monitor as well. The limitation, I will say, is that monitoring your exposure at the moment is not optimal. So what you do is you take a sample, you send it to the lab and two weeks after, with a bit of delays, you have a bit of an idea of what was your exposure when you took the sample.

So what we wanted to do, what we explore with the centre is, is there a way to develop a project that will inform the worker in real time about the exposure to RCS? So what we've done is partner with Trolex. It's a, they're based in UK, but they have some connection in Australia, obviously. And that's their jam, so they're working on dust monitoring for years, and basically we support them in focusing their work on developing something for a real time detector of exposure to RCS.

So after three years of collaboration, they put to market last year the Air XS, which is the first of its kind, has been recognised and awarded in many space. It's still being tested, as any new innovation, but it provided with the opportunity to monitor in real time, exposure to RCS, and that's the first.

All right, that brings us to the last axis of our program, which is around focusing really on the regulator and reassessing and preparing the regulator for the future world of work. I'm not gonna talk about the regulatory readiness tool, but I'm gonna say a few words. It's, this project is gonna come to completion soon, so I will leave you with it when we publish it, and you can learn more about this.

What we wanted to do here is provide the regulators with, work health safety regulator, with a tool that they could use to identify the gaps of their processes and their regulatory practices in the face of these new and emerging ways of working. Is there a gap in legislation? Is the work well-defined? Do we have a gap in capabilities? Do we need to work on the capability of our inspectorate, for example, to better regulate those practices, et cetera, et cetera? So through consultation process as well, here we created a gap assessment tool that can be used by regulators to identify those gaps created by the regulation of these new and emerging ways of working.

The RADAR, it's a novel initiative from this year, really, it's quite new. I have some slides on this one, so it's a biennial report, really, that synthesise the latest data on work health safety issues, trends and insights. The RADAR highlights the current state of play with regard to work health safety in and outside of Australia.

We have three keywords here. What we look at is data that is current, so it's in the last six months. It's local. So in some ways, we're looking at information that impact Australian workplaces. It's also relevant, obviously, to the work health safety regulator and professional. So these three keywords really guide our work in the RADAR space.

So we already published the first edition of the RADAR that was in April last year, this year, and in a couple of weeks, we will publish the second edition of it. So watch this space. How we do it is also interesting. So I mentioned earlier that research and data science are tools that we use for the purpose of developing solutions, and that's a very good example here. We use everything we have to make the RADAR happen. So we use data science. We analyse databases to identify the different trends in regard to a mechanism of injury, but also non-compliance, in particular, in New South Wales.

We also look at social media platforms. What are people talking about when they talk about work health safety? What's important to them? Is there anything that is arising recently? Then we do our work as researchers of reviewing. So we review what has been published from an academic perspective, but also in the grey literature. So what has been published from those government and regulatory agencies all over the world, but also the different industry and workers association in Australia, outside of Australia, et cetera. And whatever is relevant to us here in Australia.

And the last aspect of our data collection process is consultation. So we created this Australian Work Health Safety Survey, which is really an opportunity for all workers in Australia every six months to have a say and to tell us a little bit what's happening in their workplace, especially from a work health safety perspective. I'm gonna discuss this a little bit later.

We also consult with, we have connection with all jurisdictions, all regulators in Australia. So we consult with their inspectors, understand what are the things on the ground that's new and that we should be aware of as a regulator, a new behaviour, new attitudes, a new risk to workers, new solution perhaps that we should be aware of.

And we have a bit of a similar consultation with the Australian Institute of Health and Safety. So we connected with their senior professionals and that gives us the opportunity to use their experience to also understand what are they seeing as important right now that we need to know.

All right. The Australian survey, give a bit of an idea of what type of data we're collecting here. I think it's quite interesting. So there is a separate report that is published about the survey, will be published again in a couple of weeks. It goes along with the RADAR report.

The survey, so we ask workers about their exposure to hazard, harassment, reporting practices, the action that has been taken from the business in regard to this report. We ask them about the awareness of rights and responsibility in work health safety about the empowerment to participate in work health safety discussions. We also ask them about their workplace, right? And so the system that the workplace has in place in regard to work health safety, the commitment of their workplace in regard to work health safety and the type of barriers and enablers to good work health safety that they're seeing in their workplace.

We also have a section where we ask them about the future world of work. If there is any new risk, new solutions or similar to what we do with the inspectors and the senior work health professionals, we ask them as a worker, what are you seeing in the workplace that is new, new risk to your health and safety and your solution perhaps to prevent harm?

These are results from the previous survey that we did back in January this year. So you can read the barriers, the drivers, perhaps most importantly, we find that, so we had a bit more than 1,000 respondents to this survey, almost 700, yes, of them felt burnout. So that's two out of three respondents felt burnout. So that was one of the key insights of this survey is that the level of psychosocial harm in the workforce was quite high. Workplace bullying as well, so 33%, that means that one out of three of respondents experience bullying at work regularly. And by regularly here, we mean on a monthly basis. And so quite high level of exposure to bullying as well.

Back to the RADAR, that's the structure of it. So when you look at the RADAR report, this is what you're gonna get from insight perspective, you're gonna get general insight about the geopolitical landscape of work health safety, economy, what's happening from a regulation perspective. Then we have a section about harms. So what's happening in psychosocial harm and physical harm, anything that we need to know.

A section on the future world of work, that's new and emerging ways of working typically, and the harms that are created. Last time around, we had a spotlight on electrical vehicles. So a bit more information on that topic.

And then we have sector-specific, a sector-specific section where we put there some trends, insights that are very specific to a sector, let's say construction or agriculture. Some of the insight we found back in April.

So the first one is, we find continued financial pressures are influencing attitude towards safety. So basically businesses were experiencing a lot of geopolitical economic pressures, like from inflation, labour shortage, supply chain disruptions. And this means that the priority place on work health safety from those businesses will be challenged. So there will be an expectation that business focus less on the work health safety basically. We also from the consultation understood that there was an emergence of complacency and acceptance of unsafe practices, in particular consultation with inspectors, senior work health safety professional confirmed that point.

One of the second key findings I mentioned earlier is that the experience of psychosocial harm, including burnout and harassment, as I mentioned, nearly two third of respondents in the survey were feeling burnout. And what we found through our consultation within the survey, but also with inspectors and senior professionals is that the main drivers was a normalisation of chronic understaffing. So a normalisation of job demands. "I'm busy because we don't have the staff and that's normal."

Also, another driver was limited acknowledgement and limited action taken by businesses against bullying and harassment when it was reported. That was another insight. And these are drivers for workers feeling burnout.

Another key insight for regulators was the movement of strengthening actions to address work health safety concerns by regulators, in particular in New South Wales, laws were made in regard to assault to frontline health and emergency service workers, which will attract a harsher sentence of up to 14 years in jail. And you can see the other insights here. But very interesting to regulators to see what's being done nationally from a regulation perspective.

Also, one of the key findings was around this new area of regulatory disruption. So artificial intelligence, again, we had a section on this, electrical vehicle, we had a spotlight on this last time. We saw, doing some data analytics on the social media platform. We saw an increased interest in electrical vehicle in general, and this combined with the current poor regulation that we have in storage and use of electrical battery. The insight was that there might be an increase of harm in that space.

And professional athletes as well, a bit of a change for regulators as there was some inquiry at the Senate, you know, you've got professional athletes and the current exemption of paid professional athlete from current workers' compensation scheme. So again, another things to consider for regulators.

That's my takeaway slide. So look, keeping afloat of the future world of work is a challenging things. And it's not something that you can do quickly, but thankfully at the centre, this is one of our focus. So we have dedicated focus on this. Regularly we publish evidence, you know, about the work health safety implication of new ways of working. And this is ongoing work. You will see more and more publication from our end on this.

We also publish plug and play tools, you know, to directly prevent harm. So these tools can be used by workplace to directly prevent harm, or at least, very least identify, prioritising potential risks that are created through these new ways of working.

As I mentioned, we have an ongoing program on the future world of work. So we regularly publish insights that are valuable for the work health safety professionals and regulators. Okay. You can follow us on all social media platforms. We present everywhere. We also launched last, three months ago, a quarterly newsletter, the Work Health Safety Insight. And we have some very interesting contributions here from industry experts. And also academics. But work healthy safety passionate I will say, on the topic of work health safety. So I encourage you to follow this newsletter. It's for free every three months as well. We have a publication.

That's my very last slide. And it's about the World Congress, the 23rd World Congress that is going to happen in Sydney in a month's time. It's coming very close. I'm part of the National Organising Committee of this Congress. This is basically the Olympics of work health safety. So if you work in that space, you absolutely need to be present. We're expecting 4,000 attendees from more than 150 countries. It's going to be huge. It's on four days. A lot of topic, the topic of the future world of work will be addressed there. But that and a lot more. So this is a one-time opportunity to get a download on what's happening in work health safety across the world, but also create connections and learn from others. And that's me, Chris.

Chris Bombolas: Thanks, Greg. Good luck with that 23rd World Congress in Sydney next month. And if anyone out there is interested, I'm sure you can get details off the web and off the internet. We do have some questions to get through. Appreciate your presentation, Greg. So if you do have a question, remember, use the Q&A chat box on the right of your screen. We'll get to as many as we can.

First up, Greg, from Sarah. Can you talk more about how AI could be used to improve safety in workplaces?

Dr Gregory Zelic: To improve safety. So a solution created through AI to improve safety. That's a good question. I don't have a specific example in mind at the moment, but I will tell you that AI changed the work environment, which means that it changed the roles and responsibility of workers, what they do in the workplace. And so time to time, it prevents harm that way. The AI system might take the previous role of workers, and that role was very high risk, et cetera, et cetera. What we need to focus on as well is on whether this new work environment creates harm that were not anticipated. I think that's the question. That's the approach that we have here.

Chris Bombolas: What do you say, then, a follow-up question from me about older people who fear AI and automation, that it's taking away our jobs and prospective jobs of younger people that, I'm not just saying AI, but automation as well.

Dr Gregory Zelic: Yeah. I would say that there is plenty of publication on that topic that shows that there is no job losses. It's job change, really. This is what we, as a society, we're evolving. So the jobs that we had 100 years ago, they're not the same that we have today, and it's not going to be the same in 100 years. So this question of progress and innovation and how it affects workplaces is a continuous question. It's a perpetual question. What I would say is that most often than not, job are not lost, per se. Well, at least that's my perception of it. They're not lost, they change.

And from a work heath safety perspective, our focus should be, okay, what's the change? Yes, it solves some problem because some of these old roles or old jobs where we're creating harm, we didn't know how to prevent them or to address them. So having AI system doing the work is actually a good safety measure. But having it is creating new roles, new responsibilities, new task, and we need to have a very good understanding of what harm are created through those.

Chris Bombolas: Yep. So which brings us to Colin's question, which is probably the right time to bring this one in. What are staff reactions to using cobots at work?

Dr Gregory Zelic: What was that? Sorry, I missed that.

Chris Bombolas: Colin wants to know, what are staff reactions? You know, what's the workplace reacting like, employees to using cobots at work?

Dr Gregory Zelic: Look, that's a good question. I would say it varies. Look, I won't have the details of this. I think it varies for everyone. I will say that differently. I would say some of the risks that we identify with the introduction of a new technology on the work site, whether it's AI system or cobots or whatever else really, it applies as well, is that there is a bit of uncertainty from the worker, from the worker that are already in place and back to your previous point, about what's going to happen to me.

And that's, so there's a series of risks that are created about managing the change, right? From a workplace that do not have AI system or cobots in place to workplace that have it, how do you manage the change and make sure that through the process you maintain the health and safety of the workers that are within your work site.

Chris Bombolas: John has been watching intently. He has a question about those who might be thinking about using cobots, AI, et cetera. So moving with the times, as you said earlier, Greg, how does a small business get started in this space particularly? They're not over-resourced and quite often they're time poor and resource poor. How do they get started?

Dr Gregory Zelic: Look, that's not my area of expertise, but I would say you have people that specialise in this. You have designers, distributors that have AI systems. So depending on your sector, your work activities really, you can find those people, you can find those companies that are distributing AI solutions that might be relevant for your particular workplace. So have a look at it, identify what might be useful. And then the second consideration is that if you do consider introducing AI system in the workplace, then that brings what I discussed about today, the health and safety consideration of it.

Chris Bombolas: Yep. Thanks, Louise, for joining us today. And Greg, Louise is interested in whether you are looking into programs that will take a photo of a work site and then identify hazards. So using technology to identify possible problems.

Dr Gregory Zelic: Yeah, look, this is more like a data science conversation, which I'm happy to have. There's also imaging provided from satellites or drones that could be used to identify work sites, for example, that might have difficulty being compliant. That's a nice idea. It's extremely difficult to implement in reality, in real life. That's not off the card, but obviously, this is one of those development that I was talking about, this new technology development. We consider it from a workplace perspective, there will be new solutions to prevent harm, but also from a regulatory perspective. What can we use that has being developed from a technological perspective that can improve our regulatory practice? I think that's my part of it.

Chris Bombolas: Yep. Greg, Summer would like to hear about how you assess psychosocial hazards associated with introducing new ways of working. For example, do the assessment instruments consider the risk of a worker being forced to work even when dangerous levels of, say, silica are detected?

Dr Gregory Zelic: Yes, so that brings a little bit... So I'm not sure I understand the question, but yes, the psychosocial aspect of the harm is considered. When we look at, I think the question was around when you have a new technology that is introduced in the workplace and whether psychosocial harm were part of this list of risks that we consider, absolutely. We look at all the risk and all the different type of harm that those risks can create.

So I think the most difficult question is how do you mitigate those risks? And sometimes what we already have in place, let's say to manage psychosocial risk, to make sure that when we prevent the potential harm, what we have already in place is not maybe suitable for managing the risk related to the introduction of AI system in the workplace. I hope that was clear.

Chris Bombolas: Colin asks, how can we access the National Worker Survey?

Dr Gregory Zelic: Oh, it's available online. So we do it every six months. So there is one running in February next year, and we just did one in August. So during that month, we have a whole media campaign where, so if you follow us on the media platform, you will definitely hear about it. It's just a link that we provide to anyone that wants to participate. So at the moment it's closed.

Chris Bombolas: Leanda wants to know.

Dr Gregory Zelic: It will be reopened in February, yeah.

Chris Bombolas: Yep, Leanda then as a follow up, wants to know how to follow you on social media.

Dr Gregory Zelic: Follow me, oh, you can find me everywhere. I'm only kidding as well, so I'm very happy to connect with any of the audience, have a conversation.

Chris Bombolas: Yep, okay, all right. Well, we'll get the team onto that at the end of the presentation.

A thought provoking question from Martin. We know that humans are not perfect and make mistakes that lead to harm. Blame fixes nothing. However, is there any research into how the extent of human mistakes can be reduced?

Dr Gregory Zelic: Look, the clear answer for me is that I don't know. I don't know if there is any. I will expect that there is. What I will tell you though is that this is, yes, human mistakes happens, but it happens within a context. So in the worker safety prevention world, what we're looking at is mostly the system and the processes that are in place around the worker and that we make sure that if a human mistake happened, it can be isolated. It's not, well, at least it can be reduced through the system and process you have around the worker.

Chris Bombolas: So minimise the damage that that mistake could actually cause.

Dr Gregory Zelic: Yes, exactly right, exactly right.

Chris Bombolas: From Liz, she'd like to know, is the RADAR report New South Wales focused or Australia-wide data?

Dr Gregory Zelic: Australia-wide. So the data that we use, some of it is New South Wales focused because we do have access as a New South Wales agency to New South Wales data, but of it, scanning, the consultation is Australia-wide. So the RADAR itself is applicable to Australia.

Chris Bombolas: And one from me to wrap up proceedings today. Can you share any insight into what's coming up in the next RADAR report? And are there any sneak peeks you can share with us today? A little scoop I'd like to finish with.

Dr Gregory Zelic: A scoop. I can tell you that we have a spotlight this time around generative AI. So, you know, the use of things like ChatGPT, for example, the use of it in workplace, the different use of it. And so yeah, it's gonna be an interesting chat. So there will be a few pages on that, on that particular topic.

Chris Bombolas: Gregory, thank you very much for the scoop and for sharing your presentation with us today.

Dr Gregory Zelic: Thank you for the opportunity guys, really appreciate it.

Chris Bombolas: Dr Gregory Zelic, who joined us for our special Work Well presentation. Hope you enjoyed it.

Now a little bit of homework for you, if you so choose. Before we go, we'd love to hear your feedback on today's presentation. So please grab your phone and scan the QR code that's on your screen right now and take a short survey. It'll only take a couple of minutes. These are very important for us because it'll help us formulate presentations in the future and it'll give us your feedback direct.

Key takeaways from Gregory's livestream will be available on in the coming days, along with his presentation. You can also rewatch today's full session via the watchlive link you are using today if you're really eager to share or catch up straight away. We'll also upload Gregory's presentation onto the same page. So keep your eye out for that at a later date.

While we're on our website, check out our full range of case studies, podcasts, speaker recordings, webinars and films to help you take action to improve your WHS and return to work outcomes. These resources are free to download so I encourage you to share them with your staff and of course your wider networks.

Well, that brings us to a conclusion for today's session on behalf of WorkSafe Health and Safety Queensland. Thanks for joining us for this special Work Well presentation by Dr Gregory Zelic. Remember, October is Safe Work Month and as always, we leave you with this message. Work safe, home safe. Bye for now.