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Developing an ergonomics intervention technique model to support the participatory ergonomics process for improving work systems in organizations in an industrially developing country and its ‘Meta-Reflection'

by Helali, Faramarz, PhD

Abstract (Summary)
The Ergonomics Intervention Programme (EIP) can be a means of guaranteeing the most efficient use of the labour force of an industrially developing country (IDC) by creating safe and appropriate working conditions. Many problems at work can be resolved with ergonomics intervention, but persist due to a lack of ergonomics awareness and ‘know-how', as well as poor social awareness in education. This thesis represents an attempt at investigating how the Ergonomics Intervention Programme (EIP) and Ergonomics Intervention Programme Techniques (EIPTs) can be implemented in an organization by using an Ergonomics Intervention Technique (EIT) process (i.e. EIP activities, EIP team, and EIP process). The objective was to develop an action-oriented intervention process for the improvement of health and safety, as well as trying to improve work systems in IDC industries. To respond to these purposes, two main questions and four different sub-questions were formulated in this study as follows: I. Why are the efforts of these industries to implement and internalise the EIP being constrained? a. What are the main causes of these constraints? b. Is it that the EIP is difficult to implement? II. How should the EIPTs be delivered to the Iranian Industries and possibly to other organizations in IDCs, so that they can easily learn how to use them successfully? c. How can EIPTs be successfully implemented and internalised by such organizations? d. What practical activities are required for the EIPTs' implementation? This thesis also describes the development and results of using various methods during the last 10 years and illustrates the challenges of introducing EIP to Iranian industries. In this thesis, two complementary strategies have been used to collect and analyze evidence. Empirical evidence has been collected through case studies from pre-intervention phase of the EIP in Iranian Industries (as archival analysis), and action research in the three subsidiary companies while theoretical evidence has been collected through a literature study. Put simply, the conception of action research that I used is one of ‘learning by doing; individually and collectively'. One popular action research model is ‘reflecting, planning, acting, and observing'. The main difference between action research and the case study approach is noted in this study. Furthermore, in this study I mention many kinds of action research described as ‘Action Research' (AR), ‘Participatory Action Research' (PAR), and ‘Participatory and Appreciative Action Research' (PAAR). The purpose was to distinguish between the different kinds of reflections in joining up practice with theory, or ‘knowing-in-action' (i.e. the context was the EIP), including: ‘reflection-in-action' (i.e. the EIP was by ETWs), ‘reflection-on-practice, (i.e. EIP was by EIPTs) and ‘Meta-reflection' (i.e. this is thinking again about our reflection-on- practice). Based on data analyses and outcomes, an understanding was derived about factors which impact on the implementation of the EIPT Process Model. The main EIP activities were: Awakening for changing (A), Vision (V), Method of the EIPT (M), Learning (L), and Integrating (I)). Furthermore, the EIPT method in Study H was formulated to include, Participatory Ergonomics (PE) and Ergonomics Awareness Building (EAB). EAB includes; Ergonomics Training (ET), Ergonomics Application (EA), and Evaluation (E). Research Activities (RA) and Network Building (NB). The EIP team includes: action groups (AGs), a Steering Committee (SC), and Facilitator (s) (FA). The EIP process includes; routine (pre-intervention) tasks, modified (EIP process) tasks, and new EIP (post-intervention) tasks. Two key research questions emerged in the process of reflecting on the EIP. They were: (1) ‘What is it we want more of here, and how can we amplify this?' and (2) ‘How does the future unfold from an appreciation of the positive present?' These new research questions are the other side of this study. The author has discussed trying to get the EIP conversations to ‘Tip' positively. This opened up the possibility of having new kinds of conversation through EIP studies and for further research. For example, firstly, focusing on the root cause of a ‘problem' and risk of managing it, is essentially a conversation about what we may want less of here. Secondly, if we use our appreciative intelligence (i.e. the ability to perceive the positive inherent generative potential within the present), we open up the possibility of trying to understand the root cause of success. These conversations are about what we may want more of here. The main knowledge contribution of this study was the development and evaluation of a generally-applicable EIP and a range of EITs based on macro- ergonomics theory. Thus, the focus was mainly on improving workplace action and using participatory ergonomics processes through, the use of the EIPTs. Implementing and sustaining change were made possible by commitment to continual learning and focus on new improvement in action. The major outcome was a ‘Proposed model for the ergonomics ‘know-how' transfer at individual, group, and organizational levels in an IDC (at Micro/Macro ergonomics levels)'. The outcomes of this study are also used to provide industrial managers with a set of principles and processes to practically deal with ergonomics ‘know-how' transfer. Furthermore, Participatory, and Appreciative Action Research (PAAR) can help to develop an understanding of different ways to apply (research) ergonomics intervention techniques in an IDC. It is therefore a positive outcome and further development of this study. Pursuing the general question of PAAR; ‘what is it we want more of here and how can we amplify this?' I use an acronym ‘C.R.E.A.T.I.V.E' to point out some interesting avenues for future research. I hope this will be the next part of the EIP journey in the IDC. It will involve ‘heart, head, and hands' and especially behaviours that are ‘Human centered, Participatory, and Appreciative'!
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:Luleå tekniska universitet

School Location:Sweden

Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation

Keywords:

ISBN:

Date of Publication:01/01/2008

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