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The industrial and labor impact of the economy 4.0

The industrial and labor impact of the economy 4.0

The industry 4.0 it's here and it's unstoppable. The fourth industrial revolution is a reality that is beginning to have an impact on the new forms of production, new forms of business organization and, of course, on the safety and health of workers. We are facing a revolution in which the digitization of production processes prevails, connectivity, the automation of machines and new emerging technologies such as robotics, artificial intelligence, additive manufacturing or virtual and augmented reality, among other.
A technology that develops at a dizzying pace that, without a doubt, It is already posing a challenge for today's societies, and that, in the next years, will change the where, how and who will work. We're, therefore, Faced with a scenario in which it is necessary to have answers and strategies so that companies can, The best way possible, manage the changes brought about by this fourth revolution.

With this objective, the project 'Industrial Revolution: prevention and challenges 4.0’. This is an investigation carried out by four benchmark entities in the Valencian Community, representative of the wood production sectors., furniture and metallurgyOur property, femeval, Feva y Valmetal— and two leading entities in the world of prevention and occupational health care —Unimat Prevention y Mutual Union—. Entities that have more than 20 years adding experiences and knowledge to increase productivity and business competitiveness.

Javier Murcia, Head of Innovation Management at Unión de Mutuas, during the celebration of the Ágora Bienestar Congress, in which the project 'R-evolución Industrial: prevention and challenges 4.0'.

Pioneering and collaborative study addresses, from the business vision, preventive and innovative, obstacles and challenges, hitherto unknown and unexplored, the use of enabling technologies in the work environment, as well as the new emerging occupational risks resulting from the person-machine relationship and the action strategies to make the Industry 4.0 be more productive, safer and more humane.

The investigation, based on interviews with companies, analyzes the working and employment conditions affected by digitization and offers guidelines to ensure the adaptation of the new environment to the well-being of workers. Guidelines based on ethics and social responsibility, enabling people to be the true protagonists of digital transformation, placing them at the center of all changes and technological revolution.

There are many competitive advantages that this economy brings 4.0, as is the productive efficiency and the increase of the economic benefits, social and environmental. To this must be added, in the field of prevention, the great potential that new technologies have in terms of eliminating and reducing occupational hazards. among many others, reducing repetitive tasks, dangerous and of less added value when carried out by robots or cobots; less exposure to polluting environments; the greater availability of data to objectify and make decisions; the reduction of incidents as a result of predictive maintenance of work equipment; and the greatest personal protection thanks to intelligent protection devices that warn of risk situations and issue alerts, the so-called 'smart PPE'.

But, beyond the advantages, the study shows that it is in the organizational and psychosocial sphere where the Industry 4.0 will have a bigger impact. Changes in working conditions caused by demanding work rhythms, extension of days, schedules, nomadic work, alterations in personal relationships and professional hierarchies, or the new forms of contracting, cause a scenario in which psychosocial risks appear, organizational, of security, hygiene, and cybersecurity.

So, the rejection of the unknown in the face of new technologies and their changes emerge as new occupational hazards, the appearance of technostress, technophobia or technoaddiction, vulnerability, social isolation due to the virtualization of communications, the invasion of the personal sphere or the feeling of insecurity due to the possible precariousness of employment.

Given all these risks identified, the project offers answers, a roadmap with a series of strategies so that companies can eliminate them, reduce and prevent them. Strategies that must be considered in a personalized way in each company with the application of ethical codes that contemplate teleworking and the right to disconnect, actions in the field of leadership, conflict management protocols, recognition and reward systems, mentoring techniques, the business-game to acquire knowledge in relaxed environments, emotional and stress management workshops, risk analysis, promotion of participation, coherent organization of working time and age management and active aging that ranges from middle-aged staff —called digital immigrants— to older people who need more exclusive adaptation actions such as intergenerational coaching techniques.

This change of era and digital transformation also entails the appearance of new jobs, new technological professional profiles —data analysts, programmers, robotics experts, cybersecurity—, of which there is currently a high shortage in the labor market. But, Simultaneously, there are demands for new profiles with transversal skills focused on areas that are unattainable for machines, how is critical thinking, analysis and resolution of complex problems, creativity, social influence, emotional intelligence, leadership and social conscience, among others.

This fourth industrial revolution is so big and affects so many areas of people's lives that we are obliged to make an inclusive technological revolution possible., since beyond the technical dimension, they are interested in the legal, ethics and social. Namely, workers must be reviewed and protected, forms of employment and working conditions. Therefore, public and private institutions also have great challenges ahead. Among them, the legislative challenge to face the occupational risks of the new realities of flexibility and connectivity, as well as integrate new technologies into regulatory frameworks. Plus, the training challenge, to end the obsolescence of current training plans, giving way to adaptation and integration in the new work environment and, So, avoid technological unemployment.

for all this, we can well conclude that the new technologies in themselves do not imply positive or negative effects. It is the way in which they are used that determines beneficial or harmful results.. let's work, well, with them and not against them.