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Workers in a circular economy in 2040, a foresight study (Dresden)



A strategic foresight study about the consequences of circulaur economy on working conditions, occupational risks and their prevention.
Workers in a circular economy in 2040,
a foresight study
Marc Malenfer, Catherine Montagnon, Michel Héry
EUROSHNET Conference, 13 June 2019, Dresden
The INRS foresight unit has conducted studies on different topics
since 2013 (physical assistance robots, nanomaterials, future of
production, gig economy platforms).
The aim is to provide analyses on the future of work to our board
(social partners), focusing on health and safety issues.
Summaries of the reports are available in English on our website:
To have a vision of the main changes possibly occurring in a
specific field and their impacts on OSH
Establishment of a pluridisciplinary team
Selection of the different variables witch are likely to influence the development of the subject
Construction of various scenarios by combining the different hypotheses of evolution of the different
The last step will consist in translating these scenarios into consequences for occupational safety and
In foresight studies, we do not claim
to describe the future and the way things
will happen. We highlight the indicators to
be monitored.
Circular economy
Linear economic model:
- Extraction, production, consumption, waste
Puridisciplinary working group with experts from INRS & other bodies
(private firms, national agencies, social partners…)
Investigation of 16 drivers: ex: mineral resources, digitalisation, consumer
Construction of 4 scenarios
Workshops on the consequences of these 4 scenarios on occupational
health and safety issues
Scenarios (overview)
1. Circular economy driven by globalisation,
Big companies organize a global circular economy through technological innovations
that uncouple economic growth and resources consumption.
2. European political voluntarism to develop circular economy,
To counteract the growing instability around the world, Northern Europe and few
other countries develop a circular economy. Specific arrangements are adopted at
European, national and local levels.
3. Linear globalization acting against circular economy,
The priority of the dominant actors remains the linear model. Over the years it
conducts to new crises. Some players promote actions to limit the consumption of
resources and energy.
4. Circular economy managed locally,
Political inaction conduct citizens to build local self-government circular models, short
circuits, frugalityThe situation is conflictual.
OSH issues and opportunities
Identification of the main drivers through the different scenarios.
5 Key items for health and safety: for each of them potential positive and
negative incidences.
1. A new way to design products and services
2. Maintenance
3. Materials
4. Circular logistic
5. Traceability
A new way to design products and services
Circular economy means re-thinking products but also production
organization. All the functions of companies will be affected.
It’s a huge opportunity to integrate health and safety in operation,
It also means a conversion for all the trades,
> Can generate psychosocial risks
> Need specific training programs to adapt the skills
Example: the goal of the marketing staff will not be to sell more products
but to explain why a product is more eco-responsible
Functionality means that companies sell more of a service rather than a
Equipment must be designed to be more repairable
More reparability also means networks of micro-enterprises doing this job
in the field :
Do those MSEs have the resources to tackle the risks?
What dialogue between the goods manufacturers and those MSEs?
A standardization topic
Circular economy means new materials:
New materials with specific properties: to reduce the environmental impact, to
increase the useful life or to facilitate re-use and recycling,
Materials from recycling process (secondary raw materials):
> Matter of the physical and chemical properties of those materials
What level of information enterprises need to protect the workers who
deal with those materials?
Heterogeneity of the sources of waste material
A standardization topic
Circular logistic
Circular economy means a multiplication of the logistic flows
Circular economy could lead to increased mobility of goods
A need to review management of logistics
A solution: Physical Internet? => typical standardization topic
Circular economy means that a company’s waste becomes another
company’s raw material,
Need for perfect traceability to ensure workers’ health and safety,
A field for innovation (information embedded in the products…),
Maybe the main standardization topic!
Our job: making yours safer
Thank you for your attention
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