Photo caption: University of Melbourne Professor of Management Peter Gahan presenting at the 2018 WorkSafe Conference at the Grand Chancellor in Hobart.

Tasmania’s work health, safety and wellbeing professionals addressed the future challenges presented by changing work patterns and operating environments at the 2018 WorkSafe Conference last month.

From an ageing workforce to the ever-extending reach of new technologies, staying ahead of these challenges was deemed vital for the health and wellbeing of all Tasmanian workers.

University of Melbourne Professor of Management Peter Gahan presented at the conference about ageism – the phenomena of age-based prejudice and discrimination, focussing on how organisations can minimise age-based stereotyping to ensure an inclusive work environment.

Prof. Gahan said as the population ages across the world, ageism was becoming a growing problem, especially in the workplace.

“Ageism is the idea that people are being assessed not so much for attributes, their skills, or their talents, but simply because of their age,” Prof. Gahan said.

“That can happen for older people, but also younger people as well.

“Generally older people are viewed as being warm and good at relationships, relatively stable and reliable, but incompetent – not being good at picking up new skills, understanding new technologies, being able to adapt or be flexible.

“The evidence undertaken over the last 25 years or so shows that most of those stereotypes are not true.”

The 2018 WorkSafe Conference was part of WorkSafe Tasmania Month, aligning with the theme of “Future Work, Future Challenges” which aimed to raise awareness of the new health and safety issues arising as workplaces adapt to shifting external and internal conditions.

Since 1996, when WorkSafe Month was first launched, the number of Tasmanians who suffered work-related injuries or illnesses has more than halved, from 16,167 to 6,941 in 2017.