The digitalization of the world of work presents new challenges for prevention. The so-called industry 4.0 is characterized by the comprehensive automation and interconnectivity of manufacturing industry and related business branches. Especially affected are the production, logistics and transportation sectors. With the increasing complexity of machine controls, new occupational risks, including psychosocial issues, emerge.
The Internet of Things provides new possibilities for prevention. These include the wireless control and monitoring of machines, devices and entire business operations; the monitoring of the health of workers while working in dangerous conditions; and telemedicine applications. Social security institutions also make use of artificial intelligence algorithms to analyse metadata to predict the likelihood of occupational accidents at the workplace, so that potential accidents are prevented before they occur.
The impacts of digitalization on social security and prevention systems in labour markets must be evaluated. On the one hand, digital platforms fragment the worker-employer relationship and, on the other hand, they create a growing number of self-employed entrepreneurs and contractors who commonly are unaware of the occupational risks related to the work they undertake. Many platform workers are active in the informal economy and neither receive occupational safety and health training nor do they pay contributions to social security schemes.