Content moderators must be protected by proposed Online Safety Legislation

Unite highlights health and safety risk posed by distressing content

Responding to this week’s publication by the the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport and Media of the report on the proposed Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill,  Unite – which represents workers in Samaritans Ireland – today (Thursday) said that content moderators working for online platforms are regularly exposed to distressing content and must be protected.  Unite is demanding that all health and safety assessments include working conditions which may impact on mental health, and that this is reflected in legislation.

Commenting on the report’s publication, Regional Officer Brian Hewitt said:

“We are disappointed that the report does not reflect the need to protect workers who may spend prolonged periods reviewing often disturbing content. Employers and regulators must adequately address the impact on workers’ mental health”.

Noting that the report‘s recommendations do not include a review of the mental health impact on workers moderating harmful content, Mr Hewitt continued:

“As many workers in this sector have shifted from working collectively to working alone in their homes, the informal support from workplace colleagues is no longer available.  There is thus an extra onus on employers to review the nature of their work and to ensure that potential mental health impacts are included in health and safety assessments.

“We would ask members of the Committee to revise their recommendations to include all those proposed in the Samaritans Ireland submission, which referred to the impact of self-harm and suicide content on people who are moderating online platforms.

“This is a crucial health and safety issue which Unite hopes will be addressed in the final bill”, Brian Hewitt concluded.

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