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Contributions of participatory ergonomics to the improvement of safety culture in an industrial context

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This paper presents the results of an ergonomic intervention conducted within a blast furnace plant. As part of its risk prevention program, the company decided to set up an action plan, in a participatory manner, by setting up working groups to solve health & safety issues. This field mission involved 230 employees, 80 of whom participated actively by being incorporated into working groups. After four months of intervention, a questionnaire survey has been conducted among employees to study the effects of participation on the safety climate. The results seem promising and show that the benefits of participation are numerous: a more positive safety climate associated to safer attitudes and behaviors. However, rather than just participation, it seems to be the employee involvement in the working groups and the satisfaction they derive from their participation that guarantee these positive results. Hence, participatory ergonomics seems to be an effective way to decrease the number of unsafe behaviors at work, provided that the type of participation has been previously well defined and organized according to the specific context of each organization.
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... The authors stress the necessity of allocating resources for effective improvement actions next to the safety culture assessment [18,20,21], as a condition for motivation and trust of the workforce in the safety management system. But the simple actions and consequent changes in behaviors are not sufficient to claim a change in safety culture. ...
... Involving the Workers in the Assessment to Improve Safety Culture The assessment of safety culture in itself has an improving effect, by two mechanisms linked to the participation of the workforce. The first mechanism is coherent with the top-down approach and consists in the motivation originated by the involvement of the workers, in the reflexion about safety [20]. This participation is mechanical and doesn't require anything other than the perception to be asked and considered on safety issues. ...
... This participation is mechanical and doesn't require anything other than the perception to be asked and considered on safety issues. This psychological motivation helps to better consider the involvement of managers for safety and then to perceive a better safety culture [20]. In the same way, Mengolini [21] notes that the motivation and involvement of the staff is useful for the definition of improvement activities and is a required condition to manage safety. ...
Chapter
This article aims to explore and analyze the evidences of the studies about SC improvement in the industrial field. A bibliographic search was made at different databases using the terms “Safety Culture” and “Improvement”. Following the exclusion of the duplicates and applying the inclusion criteria, thirteen articles were reviewed by the authors, which allowed to assess mainly common themes to summarize the main conclusions. This review shows that communication is a key element for developing SC, and also that the fear of punishment and the difficulties in managing a reporting system are the main difficulties to improve it. To outline, this systematic review showed that despite a diversity of conceptions and practices related to the improvement of the Safety Culture, it is possible to identify some common elements. However, further research should be developed to deepen the knowledge about the topics discussed in this paper.
... Specifically, researchers and practitioners in these areas have documented desired changes in safety behavior [e.g., [18][19][20], safety outcomes [21][22][23], the use of safety technology [e.g., 10], psychosocial factors [e.g., 24], safety climate [e.g., 20,25], and maintenance of these desired changes [e.g., 26,27]. Section 3.1 of this paper closely examines the distinct origins of behavioral safety and participatory ergonomics and discusses how each approach is based in fundamental elements that derive from their respective roots. ...
... Specifically, researchers and practitioners in these areas have documented desired changes in safety behavior [e.g., [18][19][20], safety outcomes [21][22][23], the use of safety technology [e.g., 10], psychosocial factors [e.g., 24], safety climate [e.g., 20,25], and maintenance of these desired changes [e.g., 26,27]. Section 3.1 of this paper closely examines the distinct origins of behavioral safety and participatory ergonomics and discusses how each approach is based in fundamental elements that derive from their respective roots. ...
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Many researchers and practitioners argue the importance of end-user involvement in workplace safety management, but the research literature and practices remain fractured across orientations. The primary aim of this paper is to bridge the gap between two major participatory safety management approaches: behavioral safety and participatory ergonomics. First, an overview and brief history of participative management is presented to provide context for its application to workplace safety. Next, behavioral safety and participatory ergonomics are separately examined in terms of their origins and core elements. Finally, based on this examination, unifying elements between behavioral safety and participatory ergonomics will be presented to provide a comprehensive account of participatory safety management.
... Industry liaison was achieved among roadwork constructors and association bodies at a regional, national, and international level. The project outcomes support evidence that participatory ergonomics and human-centered design has a positive effect on work culture (Lallemand, 2012), provides for return on investment (Booher, 2003;and Burgess-Limerick et al, 2011), reduces risk for illness, injury and disablement (Cantley et al, 2014) and contributes to health (Karwowski, 2012). Pazell and Burgess-Limerick (2015 a, b ) argue that design of work for health is a human-centred design approach. ...
... Participatory ergonomics programs support the continuum of safety, occupational health, health, wellness, and productivity (e.g. Burgess-Limerick et al, 2011;and Lallemand, 2012). This is illustrated when a project is evaluated according to an Occupational Perspective of Health (OPH) -"Doing -Being -Becoming -Belonging" -(e.g. ...
Article
Road construction comprises high-risk work activity including risks for collision, musculoskeletal disorder, and slips, trips and falls. A participatory ergonomics project was hosted after compelling field observations were made. A manual task involving roll-out of multi-laminate tape was redesigned with the fabrication of a customized trolley. A human-centered design process was engaged (The Design for Operability and Maintainability Technique) and the project outcomes were reviewed according to an Occupational Perspective of Health, a spectrum of safety through to productivity (or “doing – being – becoming – belonging”). Critical success factors of the project are described, also, to inform activity that may sustain a participatory ergonomics and human-centered design practice.
... Cabe destacar también la evidencia sobre el potencial de la ergonomía participativa en la identificación de peligros en la actividad de trabajo para generar iniciativas de implementación de control y reducir efectivamente el riesgo de lesiones en los trabajadores (Cantley et al, 2014). Por lo tanto, la ergonomía participativa parece ser una manera eficaz de reducir el número de conductas de riesgo en el trabajo (Lallemand, 2012). ...
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Se realizó una revisión descriptiva de la evolución de la ergonomía participativa como estrategia de intervención, su progreso conceptual y metodológico desde sus inicios de aplicación a la actualidad. La revisión se realizó a partir de estrategias de consulta que incluyeron las siguientes: 1) consulta de seis bases de datos, 2) seis principales revistas científicas y 3) selección de cuatro libros especializados. Se seleccionaron 70 artículos potenciales clasificados como bibliografía exploratoria. Se establecieron como criterios de selección los siguientes: artículos científicos o libros especializados y tema central ergonomía participativa aplicada. De acuerdo con estos criterios se determinó como bibliografía pertinente y relevante 37 publicaciones, las cuales fueron analizadas a la luz de la evolución de la ergonomía participativa. Como conclusión se determinó que la ergonomía participativa puede ubicarse como una subárea de la Macroergonomía en cons- tante evolución que llega a considerarse por distintos autores como filosofía, modelo, enfoque, estrategia o metodología. Es necesario revisar la evidencia científica para desarrollar un concepto más acertado, que le permita a la ergonomía participativa ser parte integral en cada una de las dimensiones de la ergonomía.
... Security may be compromised (BS ISP 27500: 2016). Opportunities may be missed to improve safety culture and establish a positive work climate (Laing et al, 2007;Laitinen et al, 1998;and Lallemand, C., 2012). Efforts to achieve sustainability in environmental and social practices may be thwarted. ...
Conference Paper
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Investigations were undertaken at a North Queensland mining organisation with a high level of maturity associated with good work design and participatory ergonomics practices. Lead and lag indicator reports and industry award reports were reviewed. Semi‐structured and unstructured interviews were conducted with management, program coordinators and workers during a site visit. A formative process was undertaken during the investigation to determine achievements and areas for improvement, with retrospective review and consensus achieved from organisation representatives at various levels of management. Two case studies were highlighted in this paper to illustrate their good work design initiatives, one describing hand injury reduction rates and the other addressing biomechanical risk reduction for low back injury.
... The review also enabled consideration of outcomes that supported the continuum of safety, occupational health, health, wellness, and productivity (e.g. Burgess-Limerick et al, 2011;Cantley et al, 2014;and Lallemand, 2012). The project was evaluated according to an Occupational Perspective of Health (OPH) -"Doing -Being -Becoming -Belonging" -(e.g. ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Evidence supporting the benefits of participatory ergonomics is compelling. Ergonomics may improve productivity, mitigate high‐risk activity, promote social connectedness, and inspire innovation. However, the practices are not well integrated in many management systems. Program and process evaluation is required to support the sustainability of the practice. This case study describes the selection of a critical control to improve the manual task of sweeping recycled asphalt product (RAP) at a production plant. A multi‐criteria decision making model was applied retrospectively to consider the decisions that were made in terms of selecting the control. The case study was reviewed according to an Occupational Perspective of Health, a spectrum of safety through to productivity (or " doing – being – becoming – belonging "). Managers were asked for their input regarding the importance of the ergonomics process, the people involved, and the outcomes achieved. The findings revealed that decision‐making models may support a participative design process and ergonomics outcomes may be viewed along a performance continuum and, in this case, address many elements important to good work design. The elements that were perceived to be important to the design process included worker involvement, ergonomist skill set, and task selection.
... Several studies [12][13][14][15][16] have revealed that significant and positive relationships have been found between safety culture and safety performance. Researchers who have utilized the concept of safety climate in order to measure the occupational safety perception of employees regarding work environment have found that there is a significant relationship between safety climate and safety performance [17][18][19][20][21][22]. Moreover, the existence of significant and positive relationships between safety culture and job satisfaction have been expressed in the field literature [23][24][25]. ...
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This study examines the differences in safety outcomes based on mandatory versus voluntary safety committee implementation at six manufacturing plants. Injury data were collected over a 10-year period, before and after each of these plants implemented employee safety committees. Data were also collected on two similar plants where no safety committees were implemented during the study period and acted as controls for the study. The results suggest that the government could better achieve its objectives of reducing occupational injuries by encouraging companies to increase employees’ opportunities to participate in the safety process rather than target and/or require a specific type of participation program to be implemented.
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Perceptions related to work safety are examined in relation to their ability to account for variation in employee attitudes, perceptions, and behaviors indicative of vocational adjustment, after objective indicators of safety risk have been taken into account. Results, based on a sample of 1167 railroad employees, indicate that objective risk factors typically accounted for 1–3% of the variation in outcome indicators, with perceptions of work safety explaining between 1 and 20% of additional variation. The importance of safety perceptions as a predictor of employee outcomes is discussed.
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This paper concerns organizational safety culture and the structure or architecture of employee attitudes to safety as part of that culture. It begins by reviewing the somewhat scant literature relevant to this area, and then reports a study, conducted in a European company, which collected and factor analysed data on employee attitudes to safety. The framework provided for the study was that offered by Purdham (1984), and the results suggested that employees' attitudes to safety, within this company (across occupation/occupational level and country), could be mapped By five orthogonal factors: personal scepticism, individual responsibility, the safeness of the work environment, the effectiveness of arrangements for safety, and personal immunity. The theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed, and attention is drawn to their subsequent use in an intervention to enhance safety culture within the organization by attacking supervisors' attitudes to safety.
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A 6-item measure that assesses global work safety climate was validated using multiple samples each from a hospital and a nuclear energy population. Across all 14 samples the 6-item measure had acceptable internal consistency. The measure was associated with better adherence to safe work practices, reduced exposure to environmental stressors, the presence of more safety policies and procedures, a positive general organizational climate, and decreased accidents. As evidence for discriminant validity, safety climate was unrelated to most demographic measures and had relatively small relationships with sleeping problems and negative mood. Evidence suggests that this measure is a reliable and valid way to assess global safety climate.
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In UK industry, particularly in the energy sector, there has been a movement away from ‘lagging’ measures of safety based on retrospective data, such as lost time accidents and incidents, towards ‘leading’ or predictive assessments of the safety climate of the organisation or worksite. A number of different instruments have been developed by industrial psychologists for this purpose, resulting in a proliferation of scales with distinct developmental histories. Reviewing the methods and results from a sample of industrial surveys, the thematic basis of 18 scales used to assess safety climate is examined. This suggests that the most typically assessed dimensions relate to management (72% of studies), the safety system (67%), and risk (67%), in addition themes relating to work pressure and competence appear in a third of the studies.