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The Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors (CIEHF) comments on the impact of robots in the workplace

Published: 10 August 2018 - Sarah Mead

There has been more recent news reporting that almost 10 million people are concerned about the implementation of robotics in the workplace, according to a You Gov survey that has been released to coincide with the new two-year commission on Workers and Technology.

The two year commission is being chaired by Yvette Cooper MP and will identify immediate actions that need to take place to support workers as technology impacts the workplace during the next 10 years. The research has found that 73% of respondents are confident that technology will enable individuals to update and enhance their skills, however, there is still a significant figure of 10 million people that are anxious about the negative impact that robotics and automation could have.

The CIEHF conducts a lot of work into the impact of robots in the workplace and has carried out its own research in this area that found robotics and automation actually has a positive impact in the workplace, introducing new jobs and drastically enhancing skills. 

As the government prepares to look into how robotics and automation can be used efficiently in the workplace, a key element that's missing from all the reports we keep seeing, is the vital importance of human factors - we only reap the full benefits of robotics when designers, businesses and manufacturers ensure human factors is embraced at an early stage. 

I've included a comment to this effect below, so please feel free to use this in any pieces you are writing. I'd also be happy to arrange a broader interview if of interest.

Commenting on robotics and automation, Steve Barraclough, CEO of the Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors says: “It is inevitable that our environments and workplaces will involve increasing levels of automation, informatics, robotics, sensors and mobile devices. However, this does not mean jobs will be replaced wholesale as human skills will remain central to many tasks.

It is imperative that we make the marriage between humans and machines as seamless as possible, and Human Factors is critical to this success. Our own research revealed that 68.5% of industry professionals do not recognise Human Factors. This has to change. To ensure automation and robotics has the best possible impact then the contribution of Human Factors must be considered at a very early stage.”



 
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