tigue and exposure to musculoskeletal disorders risk factors. Also, psychosocial stresses are expected to play a greater role in the workplace of the future. Most workers will be more closely involved with customers, as consumers increasingly demand a combination of high quality, customization, and low price. Exposing the workforce to customers will change the skill requirements. Customer involvement can increase job satisfaction, but also it can increase performance pressure. As jobs become more variable (with repetitive tasks being handled by automation) and are based on new manufacturing paradigms (just-in-time, etc.) there will be a need for flexibility and a pressure to produce on demand. Furthermore, some workers may experience more isolation as support activities are housed in remote locations. More isolation may also occur as computers take over more of the functions that have traditionally relied on human interaction. These trends have implications for an increase in the role of negative psychosocial factors in reports of illness or injury in the workplace. Other factors contributing heavily to the psychosocial environment include reduced job security, more temporary jobs, and outsourcing.
There is a prospect that more workers will lose traditional benefits. More jobs are being created in small- to medium-sized enterprises than in large companies. This shift means more workers will be without extensive medical or ergonomics programs. It also means less unionization.
The changing composition of the workforce will probably require different workplace conditions. As more women enter the workforce (particularly in materials handling jobs) and as the workforce ages, there will be a continuing need to evaluate work tasks—particularly those that involve lifting, lowering, carrying, and repetitive motion.
Finally, with continued globalization comes the increased need for international design standards. A current example is the ISO-9000 series of quality standards, which has had a great leveling effect across nations.