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William Cockburn talks EU-OSHA’s mission and latest campaign with Health and Safety Review


William Cockburn, EU-OSHA Executive Director, recently sat down with our media partner, Health and Safety Review, for an in-depth interview. The conversation sheds light on various aspects of the EU-OSHA’s work, encompassing the three main areas of research, support for risk prevention and raising awareness, and how it aligns with the evolving landscape of workplace safety and health. In this regard, Mr. Cockburn emphasises the pivotal role of occupational safety and health (OSH) practitioners in both public and private sector companies in aiding the Agency to reach workplaces across the EU, achieving effective safety and health management.

The discussion further dives into the latest 2023-25 Healthy Workplaces Campaign ‘Safe and healthy work in the digital age’. The Executive Director notes that digitalisation, in and of itself, is neither inherently good nor bad. Instead, the crucial factor lies in how it is developed and implemented in practice. Therefore, involving employees during the initial design phases of digital tools is paramount for the successful integration of digitalisation in workplaces.

In relation to the campaign’s five priority areas, with the current focusing on Digital platform work, Mr. Cockburn elaborates on how platform work, such as online freelance jobs, is gaining attention due to its increasing prevalence. Furthermore, the automation of tasks has been raising concerns about ergonomics and human factors, as well as telework and remote work, accelerated by the pandemic, is requiring effective management strategies. He stresses the importance of adhering to safety principles, particularly concerning the use of artificial intelligence in workforce management, as well as the exploration of smart digital approaches like wearable monitors and virtual reality.

The interview continues to cover positive safety leadership, highlighting its transformative impact on organisational safety cultures. The expert, in this case, underlines the need for leaders to prioritise safety, not just as a regulatory obligation but as a core value ingrained within the company's ethos. EU-OSHA indeed champions safety and health at all levels, from top executives to frontline workers, and advocates for organisations to cultivate environments where employees feel empowered to speak up and contribute to a safer and healthier workplace.

The full interview is available in video format on YouTube, and the magazine article can be accessed following this link.