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AI is not OK Your work van snarls ‘distracted driver!’, the biomonitor says your heart is racing but you’re off the pace, the hand-held scanner sends you scurrying over there when you’ve barely got over here. Hazards warns management by machine is hard at work, and it will take real union smarts to control Artificial Intelligence.
Hazards 157, January-March 2022

Fast and furious You work hard, you hit targets, you survive another day. But then the targets ratchet up, enforced by AI systems, modern performance management or old-fashioned bosses just turning the screw. Hazards warns workers have good reason to be angry about the fast-paced disposable worker grind.
Hazards 156, October-December 2021
Fast and furious pin up at work poster

Resources

TUC resources
When AI is the boss: An introduction for union reps, TUC, December 2021.
Seven ways platform workers are fighting back, TUC, 2021. 
The TUC AI manifesto.

Amazon’s disposable workers, US National Employment Law Project (NELP), March 2020.

Technology managing people – the legal implications, Robin Allen QC and Dee MastersCloisters. A report from the TUC by the AI Law Consultancy, March 2021.

Occupational Safety and Health in digital platform work: lessons from regulations, policies, actions and initiatives, EU-OSHA, February 2022.

Miriam Kullmann and Aude Cefaliello. The Interconnection between the AI Act and the EU’s Occupational Safety and Health Legal Framework, Global Workplace Law and Policy, January 2022.

The New Frontier: Artificial Intelligence at Work: A final report produced by the  All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Future of Work, November 2021. 

Artificial Intelligence: Implications for the Future of Work, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, volume 62, Issue 11, pages 915-1013, November 2019.

The threat of physical and psychosocial violence and harassment in digitalized work, ILO ACTRAV, February 2018.

Technology managing people The worker experience, TUC report, November 2020.

The AI Regulation: entering an AI regulatory winter? ETUI, Policy Brief, July 2021.

Adrian Todolí-Signes, Making algorithms safe for workers: occupational risks associated with work managed by artificial intelligence, University of Valencia, Spain. 2021.

Alex J. Wood Algorithmic Management Consequences for Work Organisation and Working Conditions, JRC Working Papers Series on Labour, Education and Technology, July 2021.

Impact of artificial intelligence on occupational safety and health, EU-OSHA. January 2021.

 

Hazards artificial intelligence (AI) news

Britain: Retail workers need protection from AI
Retail workers need greater protection from the growing threat of automation in the workplace, Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis has warned. The retail union’s general secretary said artificial intelligence (AI) is exacerbating a lack of job security and mental health issues for workers, adding “if we are not prepared, if we are not organised and if we fail to represent the interests of our members, then new technology has the potential to make members’ working lives harder.”
Usdaw news release and National Executive Council (NEC) Statement on Understanding Technology and Automation: Shaping the Future of Work, 1 May 2022. Morning Star. Risks 1043. 4 May 2022

Britain: Rules needed on intrusive worker surveillance
Intrusive worker surveillance tech and AI risks “spiralling out of control” without stronger regulation to protect workers, the TUC has warned. Left unchecked, the union body says that these technologies could lead to widespread discrimination, work intensification and unfair treatment.
TUC news release, TUC AI manifesto and examples of surveillance and monitoring of workers. Financial Times. People Management. Risks 1034. 2 March 2022

Britain: Amazon’s high churn, high pace work model slammed
Amazon’s high turnover, high paced work model is hurting us all, a new report has warned. ‘Fast and furious’, publishing in the union safety journal Hazards, noted: “Excessive pace of work is becoming the norm – driven by performance management systems, reward systems and piece work, job insecurity and old fashioned management because-I-say-so.”
Fast and furious: Amazon’s high churn, high pace work template hurts us all, Hazards, number 156, December 2021. Fast and furious pin up at work poster.
When AI is the boss: An introduction for union reps, TUC, December 2021. Risks 1027. 4 January 2022.

Europe: Gig economy workers set to get employee rights
Gig economy companies operating in the European Union, such as Uber and Deliveroo, must ensure workers get the minimum wage, access to sick pay, holidays and other employment rights under plans for new laws to crack down on fake self-employment. Publishing long-awaited draft legislation on 9 December, the European Commission said the burden of proof on employment status would shift to companies, rather than the individuals that work for them.
Draft EU directive on improving working conditions in platform work and related 9 December speech by Commissioner Schmit. The Guardian. Risks 1026. 15 December 2021

Britain: AI is ‘damaging mental health’ of workers
Monitoring of workers and setting performance targets through algorithms is damaging employees’ mental health and needs to be controlled by new legislation, according to a group of MPs and peers. An ‘accountability for algorithms act’ would ensure that companies evaluate the effect of artificial intelligence (AI) performance-driven regimes such as queue monitoring in supermarkets or deliveries-per-hour guidelines for delivery drivers, said the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on the future of work.
APPG on the future of work website and The New Frontier: Artificial Intelligence at Work: A final report produced by the  All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Future of Work, November 2021.  The Guardian. Risks 1022. 17 November 2021

Britain: Unite warns safeguards needed on hi-tech work monitoring
Safeguards need to be fully implemented in the workplace to protect workers from the ‘unintended consequences’ of hi-tech monitoring, Unite has warned. The union was speaking out as more hi-tech monitoring equipment for construction workers was put on the market.
Unite news release. Technology managing people – the legal implications, Robin Allen QC and Dee MastersCloisters. A report from the TUC by the AI Law Consultancy, March 2021. The TUC AI manifesto. Risks 992. 14 April 2021

Britain: Warning on ‘huge gaps’ in the law over AI at work
The TUC and legal experts have warned that “huge gaps” in British law over the use of artificial intelligence (AI) at work could lead to “widespread” discrimination and unfair treatment at work. A new report - carried out for the TUC by leading employment rights lawyers Robin Allen QC and Dee Masters from the AI Law Consultancy – says that employment law is failing to keep pace with the rapid expansion of AI at work. 
TUC news release and AI manifesto. Technology managing people – the legal implications, Robin Allen QC and Dee MastersCloisters. A report from the TUC by the AI Law Consultancy, March 2021. Prospect news release. UNISON news release. Computer Weekly. Personnel Today. Risks 991. 31 March 2021

Britain: Labour warning on growth in spying at work
Workers must be protected from employers tracking them while they work from home during the pandemic, Labour has said. Online software can log how long it takes people to reply to messages, take camera shots and monitor emails, messages and meeting attendance
Labour Party news release. Morning Star.
Technology managing people: the worker experience, TUC, 30 November 2020. Risks 981. 20 January 2021

Britain: Intrusive monitoring on the rise during coronavirus
The TUC has launched a new taskforce to look at the “creeping role” of artificial intelligence (AI) in managing people at work. The taskforce launch comes as a new TUC report, ‘Technology managing people: the worker experience’, reveals that many workers have concerns over the use of AI and technology in the workplace.
TUC news release, blog and report, Technology managing people: the worker experience, 30 November 2020. Risks 976. 2 December 2020

Britain: Workers concerned about remote monitoring
Workers are ‘deeply uncomfortable’ about the introduction of remote monitoring technology by employers, a Prospect poll has found. Two-thirds of workers are uncomfortable with workplace tech like keystroke and camera monitoring and wearables being used when working remotely, the union said.
Prospect news release. Hazards workplace privacy webpages. Risks 968.
Hazards news, 10 October 2020

USA: What will AI mean for workplace safety?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) could have a major impact on workplace safety and health, the head of US government’s occupational health research body has said. John Howard, director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH, said: “Maximising the potential occupational safety and health benefits of AI applications, while minimising any potential challenges, is critical.”
NIOSH Science Blog. John Howard. Artificial Intelligence: Implications for the Future of Work, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, published online ahead of print, 22 August 2019. Risks 912. 31 August 2019

Britain: Workers forced to add tracking software to own phones
A union representing security staff has hit out at a ‘big brother’ company for forcing workers to download spying software to their personal mobile phones. GMB says Churchill Security has written to employees saying ‘it is the employee’s responsibility to ensure they have a working mobile phone at all times…disciplinary action may be taken due to an employee failing to comply with mobile phone policies’.
GMB news release. The Guardian. Risks 893. 13 April 2019

Britain: Rules needed on intrusive worker surveillance
Intrusive worker surveillance tech and AI risks “spiralling out of control” without stronger regulation to protect workers, the TUC has warned. Left unchecked, the union body says that these technologies could lead to widespread discrimination, work intensification and unfair treatment.
TUC news release, TUC AI manifesto and examples of surveillance and monitoring of workers. Financial Times. People Management. Risks 1034. 2 March 2022

Britain: Amazon’s high churn, high pace work model slammed
Amazon’s high turnover, high paced work model is hurting us all, a new report has warned. ‘Fast and furious’, publishing in the union safety journal Hazards, noted: “Excessive pace of work is becoming the norm – driven by performance management systems, reward systems and piece work, job insecurity and old fashioned management because-I-say-so.”
Fast and furious: Amazon’s high churn, high pace work template hurts us all, Hazards, number 156, December 2021. Fast and furious pin up at work poster.
When AI is the boss: An introduction for union reps, TUC, December 2021. Risks 1027. 4 January 2022.

Europe: Gig economy workers set to get employee rights
Gig economy companies operating in the European Union, such as Uber and Deliveroo, must ensure workers get the minimum wage, access to sick pay, holidays and other employment rights under plans for new laws to crack down on fake self-employment. Publishing long-awaited draft legislation on 9 December, the European Commission said the burden of proof on employment status would shift to companies, rather than the individuals that work for them.
Draft EU directive on improving working conditions in platform work and related 9 December speech by Commissioner Schmit. The Guardian. Risks 1026. 15 December 2021

Britain: AI is ‘damaging mental health’ of workers
Monitoring of workers and setting performance targets through algorithms is damaging employees’ mental health and needs to be controlled by new legislation, according to a group of MPs and peers. An ‘accountability for algorithms act’ would ensure that companies evaluate the effect of artificial intelligence (AI) performance-driven regimes such as queue monitoring in supermarkets or deliveries-per-hour guidelines for delivery drivers, said the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on the future of work.
APPG on the future of work website and The New Frontier: Artificial Intelligence at Work: A final report produced by the  All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Future of Work, November 2021.  The Guardian. Risks 1022. 17 November 2021

Britain: Unite warns safeguards needed on hi-tech work monitoring
Safeguards need to be fully implemented in the workplace to protect workers from the ‘unintended consequences’ of hi-tech monitoring, Unite has warned. The union was speaking out as more hi-tech monitoring equipment for construction workers was put on the market.
Unite news release. Technology managing people – the legal implications, Robin Allen QC and Dee MastersCloisters. A report from the TUC by the AI Law Consultancy, March 2021. The TUC AI manifesto. Risks 992. 14 April 2021

Britain: Warning on ‘huge gaps’ in the law over AI at work
The TUC and legal experts have warned that “huge gaps” in British law over the use of artificial intelligence (AI) at work could lead to “widespread” discrimination and unfair treatment at work. A new report - carried out for the TUC by leading employment rights lawyers Robin Allen QC and Dee Masters from the AI Law Consultancy – says that employment law is failing to keep pace with the rapid expansion of AI at work. 
TUC news release and AI manifesto. Technology managing people – the legal implications, Robin Allen QC and Dee MastersCloisters. A report from the TUC by the AI Law Consultancy, March 2021. Prospect news release. UNISON news release. Computer Weekly. Personnel Today. Risks 991. 31 March 2021

Britain: Labour warning on growth in spying at work
Workers must be protected from employers tracking them while they work from home during the pandemic, Labour has said. Online software can log how long it takes people to reply to messages, take camera shots and monitor emails, messages and meeting attendance
Labour Party news release. Morning Star.
Technology managing people: the worker experience, TUC, 30 November 2020. Risks 981. 20 January 2021

Britain: Intrusive monitoring on the rise during coronavirus
The TUC has launched a new taskforce to look at the “creeping role” of artificial intelligence (AI) in managing people at work. The taskforce launch comes as a new TUC report, ‘Technology managing people: the worker experience’, reveals that many workers have concerns over the use of AI and technology in the workplace.
TUC news release, blog and report, Technology managing people: the worker experience, 30 November 2020. Risks 976. 2 December 2020

Britain: Workers concerned about remote monitoring
Workers are ‘deeply uncomfortable’ about the introduction of remote monitoring technology by employers, a Prospect poll has found. Two-thirds of workers are uncomfortable with workplace tech like keystroke and camera monitoring and wearables being used when working remotely, the union said.
Prospect news release. Hazards workplace privacy webpages. Risks 968. 10 October 2020

USA: What will AI mean for workplace safety?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) could have a major impact on workplace safety and health, the head of US government’s occupational health research body has said. John Howard, director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH, said: “Maximising the potential occupational safety and health benefits of AI applications, while minimising any potential challenges, is critical.”
NIOSH Science Blog. John Howard. Artificial Intelligence: Implications for the Future of Work, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, published online ahead of print, 22 August 2019. Risks 912. 31 August 2019

Britain: Workers forced to add tracking software to own phones
A union representing security staff has hit out at a ‘big brother’ company for forcing workers to download spying software to their personal mobile phones. GMB says Churchill Security has written to employees saying ‘it is the employee’s responsibility to ensure they have a working mobile phone at all times…disciplinary action may be taken due to an employee failing to comply with mobile phone policies’.
GMB news release. The Guardian. Risks 893. 13 April 2019

Britain: Spy-in-the-cab is a dozy idea on trains, says union
Plans to introduce monitors in train cabs in a bid to keep drivers awake is a dozy idea while train companies refuse to deal with work-related fatigue, ASLEF has said. The train drivers’ union was commenting after it emerged Britain's rail safety body is considering installing monitoring devices in trains that constantly scan driver's faces and vibrate their chairs if they start to doze off.
LBC News. Seeing Machines. Risks 878. 8 December 2018

Britain: Microchipping workers is a terrible idea, warns the TUC
The use of technology that allows employers to chip their workers must be discouraged, the TUC has said. Commenting on news that the UK firm BioTeq, which offers the implants to businesses and individuals, has already fitted 150 implants in UK workers.
TUC news release, blog and report on surveillance at work. More on privacy and health and safety. The Observer. Risks 875. 17 November 2018

Britain: Strike threat over power firm’s ‘hypocritical’ worker monitoring
EDF Energy smart meter installers in London have voted ‘overwhelmingly’ for strike action over the imposition of tracker devices in vehicles and oppressive and ‘hypocritical’ monitoring of workers. What particularly irks Unite is that managers have refused to have the tracker devices in their own company cars and are not included in the drink and drug testing regime.
Unite news release. Risks 840. 10 March 2018

Global: New violence and harassment risks in digital technology  
Workers in ‘digitised’ working environments are facing new psychosocial risks and problems with work-related violence and harassment, a study for the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has found. University of Leicester business professor Phoebe Moore said: “This includes the ’gig economy’, automation practices and algorithmic management, people analytics, computerisation, wearable tracking. Overall, it’s about the use of big data and quantification to make selective, predictive and prescriptive decisions related to work, workers, and the workplace.”
ILO news release and report, The threat of physical and psychosocial violence and harassment in digitalized work, ILO ACTRAV, February 2018. Risks 836.10 February 2018

USA: Hi-tech monitoring is getting under our skin
New technologies are being used to monitor employers’ behaviour at work – and potentially outside the workplace. Contract cleaners working for a property management company in the US are being required to upload a Labor Sync app to their personal mobile phones, which uses GPS to monitor both their whereabouts and working hours.
The Guardian. LaborSync app. Risks 836. 10 February 2018

Britain: Sports Direct accused of 'emoji con' on disaffected staff
Sports Direct is asking warehouse staff to press a happy or sad face emoji on a touchpad to tell them how they're feeling when they clock in – allowing management to question them if they are disgruntled, the union Unite has said. Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: “It’s nothing short of an emoji con and a bogus exercise to gloss over past failures and some of the problems which still persist in the warehouse.”
Unite news release. The Independent. Risks 816. 9 September 2017

Britain: Snooping at work is an unhealthy intrusion
Unions, human resource experts and employers’ bodies have said that snooping on staff is an unwelcome and sometimes unhealthy intrusion. The organisations were speaking out after Europe's top court ruled a Romanian man whose employer read his messages had not had his rights violated.
BBC News Online. Hazards magazine workplace privacy webpages. Risks 735. 23 January 2016

Britain: Romec off track on tracking technology
Hundreds of CWU engineers working for Romec, the company that maintains premises for Royal Mail, Tesco and other major firms, have taken industrial action in a dispute over “misuse” of tracking technology to “harass and victimise” staff. Intrusive electronic surveillance at work has been linked to problems including increased stress, strain injuries and a drop in productivity.
CWU news releaseGuidance for unions on safety and surveillance at workRisks 508. 4 June 2011

Australia: Trackers ‘drive employees over edge’
Employers are fitting out company vehicles with invasive GPS tracking systems despite claims the technology unnecessarily invades staff privacy and contributed to the suicide of a telecommunications engineer last year. One such tracker, the GoFinder Reporter, sends employers detailed daily time sheets showing every stop made, parked time, driving time, distance covered, maximum speed and even an estimate of the amount of fuel used.
Risks 374, 20 September 2008

Britain: Alarm sounds on mobile phone tracking
Campaigners have expressed concern about the possible introduction of new technology that could allow employees to be tracked by their bosses at any time and place during the working day.
Risks 269, 12 August 2006

Britain: GMB wants Europe to outlaw tagging at work
The GMB is calling on the European Commission (EC) to outlaw the use of electronic tags to track workers. Reports have linked oppressive workplace monitoring to a range of occupational health problems, including musculoskeletal disorders and stress.
Risks 216, 23 July 2005

Britain: Workers “reduced to robots” by tags
Employees are being “dehumanised” by having to wear electronic tags while working, general union GMB has said. An increasing number working in retail distribution centres, which supply goods to supermarkets, are having to wear tags, usually on their wrists, to help speed up orders.
Risks 210, 11 June 2005

Britain: Staff monitoring is on the increase
Office workers could face an explosion in workplace monitoring, scrutiny and micro-management, according to a new report. Supply chain technology developed for monitoring goods is now being applied to individuals instead of products, warns research from the London School of Economics (LSE).
Risks 185, 4 December 2004

Australia: Workplace cybersnoopers may need a permit
Some Australian employers may soon have to seek permission from the Privacy Commission before spying on workers, testing them for drugs or monitoring their use of email or the internet.
Risks 163, 3 July 2004

Britain: Spying software watches you work
Spyware has infected almost all companies polled for a survey about web-using habits at work - although most employees are not aware that Big Brother is watching them.
Risks 155, 8 May 2004

Britain: Call centre "Big Brother" health warning
Call centre workers are suffering anxiety and depression as a result of "Big Brother" type monitoring of telephone calls and emails. Call centre union UNISON found more than 70 per cent of respondents to its survey suffered from related anxiety, 17 per cent from depression and 52 per cent of call centre staff stated that they had considered resigning.
Risks 154, 1 May 2004

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Artificial intelligence

 

Frantic work can break you body and blow your mind. A Hazards pin-up-at-work poster.

Hazards AI news and resources