With the latest advancements in modern technology, the power of computerised devices has become so great, that many jobs previously performed by humans are now carried out by robotic devices, often in a fraction of the time and at a reduced cost.
Technology has had a dramatic transformation on the types of jobs available, and we look at a few examples below:
1. Many supermarkets now offer a self-service checkout so customers can scan and pay for their own items without the need of a cashier.
2. Online banking has dominated the market and cheques can now be deposited using a smart phone app by taking a photo of both sides of the cheque and sending it back to the bank via the app.
3. Passport and immigration control officers at airports eg. Heathrow are being replaced with iris scanners.
4. In most libraries, machines are now available for borrowing and returning books allowing them to be open more hours a day with less staff.
So are there any downfalls? Well, machines and robots are only capable of doing what they’ve been programmed to do. They have no brain or common sense, and require endless amounts of testing, even after which there is no guarantee they are free from error.
Added to this there is the ethical question of how comfortable we feel replacing humans with robots in everyday situations. For instance, most people will agree that computerised filing systems and storage are a huge advantage over the paper based systems but how many of us would feel comfortable with a robot performing a medical operation on us or lorries being automated to drive themselves on the roads without the need of a driver? In an environment where room for error is little, would we really trust a robot to replace a human? Furthermore can human interaction ever be replaced entirely and what impact will this have on future generations to come?
In a recent blog, the pros and cons of modern technology were explored. One such example is the Internet which provides us with an array of resources at our fingertips. But how can we ensure we safeguard our children against inappropriate and malicious content on the web? As parents, we inevitably have some responsibility but of course we can’t monitor them all the time and that’s where schools must come in and do their bit too. Here we look at what measures can be taken to keep our children “web safe”?
1. Parental Control Software (PCS) eg. Norton Online Family or Windows Live Family Safety can be installed on any machine and manually configured by you to block content which you deem unsuitable for viewing. It can also restrict a child’s access to chatrooms and social networks where cyber bullying is becoming an increasing cause for concern.
2. Child-friendly search engines eg. Yahoo! Kids or AOL Kids limit exposure to unsavoury content by using intricate filters on the search results produced.
3. Search engine filters eg. ‘Safe Search’ available on Google and Yahoo can further filter results by blocking sites which do not meet a set of pre-defined criteria. This also helps minimise the possibility of downloading viruses.
4. Spending quality family time can reduce the need for your child to succumb to going online to alleviate boredom.
5. Internet safety flash cards present scenarios of different types of emails children might come across, so they can learn to identify which emails are genuine and which are not.
Parents must ensure they teach their child how to use the web safely and make them aware of the risks and dangers out there. Rules and boundaries are a necessity particularly in the early years of a child’s life. Sitting down with your child and making a set of rules together on what constitutes web safety can often make it easier to enforce the rules as the child feels more involved in the process.
Furthermore with the invention of Smart Phones and 3G devices, the Internet is so readily available now that its more important than ever before for schools to do their part. Often parents make the mistake of putting it off till the child is older, but it is inherent for children to want to copy their elder siblings out of curiosity. Thus if we do our bit and make them self-aware, the consequences are less likely to be severe.
Ergonomics is the science related to the ‘fit’ between people and their work. It has increasingly become an issue of concern for employers who have a responsibility for the wellbeing of their staff. The best approach is to take into account the individual capabilities and limitations of staff to ensure tasks, equipment and the environment suit the worker’s needs.
There are three main areas which are common to ergonomic studies including:
1. Job related Factors e.g. the job being done, equipment being used, the physical and social environment
2. Physical aspects of the worker e.g. body size and shape, fitness and strength, posture, senses, stresses and strains on muscles, joints and nerves
3. Psychological aspects of the worker e.g. mental abilities, personality, knowledge and experience.
To combat some of the potential issues including accidents, injury and ill health and also improve overall performance and productivity in the workplace, some of the following measures can be implemented:
- Providing height adjustable chairs
- Removing obstacles from under desks
- Arranging items on shelves in good reach
- Changing shift work patterns
- Variation of duties to reduce physical and mental fatigue
- Making sure wires are carefully stowed away
This list is not exhaustive and often talking to employees first hand is the best way to ascertain which if any changes should be made. It need not be expensive at all, but a few small changes might be just what’s need to make the work environment safer for all.