NES2008_SNadeau 1 Integrating occupational health and safety in
Integrating occupational health and safety in operational risk management: A significant
challenge altering organizational culture.
Sylvie Nadeau, Eng., Ph.D.
École de technologie supérieure
1100 Notre-Dame West
Integrated risk management is difficult: Firms employ tools of varying sophistication. Business
systems are increasingly complex and dynamic. In such an environment, how can we optimize
manufacturing systems, yet assure a safe environment for workers?
A number of paths have been explored that might lead to solutions in the integration of
occupational health and safety (OHS) with respect to:
Management of quality and the environment;
Corporate management systems, while using total quality tools or remuneration models;
Design of manufacturing systems;
Organizational factors and the control of major risks;
Planning of manufacturing systems.
Outlined succinctly here are the results of three research projects and one didactic development
project aimed at integrating OHS in the residential and commercial moving industry, in
undertaking lockout/tagout procedures during maintenance shutdowns, in the inter-functional
assessment carried out by auditors of manufacturing performance, and lastly, in the training of
mechanical engineers in Quebec. Systematic analysis of these findings then leads us to identify
ways to integrate the management of operational, health and safety risks.
Introducing OHS first calls for a clear understanding of a client’s needs and the development of
an information system that addresses the risks to be managed. Teams given the task of conceiving
a product or process must then be equipped and assisted in addressing the risks to be managed
(whether financial, technological, operational, legal, environmental, social, regulatory, consumer
oriented, fiscal or OHS in nature). Clearly, the training of those who will design products and
processes needs to include knowledge of OHS that goes hand in hand with tools used to maintain
quality. From the moment production planning of goods or services gets under way, analytical
models integrating the management of OHS risks must be constructed and allied with classic
manufacturing management tools.
In so much as quality, health, safety and operations management problems are interrelated, it is as
crucial as it is challenging to integrate these in the design and planning stages of manufacturing
systems. To enhance OHS, while preserving or improving manufacturing productivity, must
become an organizational culture.
Keywords: risk management, occupational health and safety, operational risk, integration
Topic: Risk assessment at work
Purpose of the research
Organizations are undergoing profound change in response to technological advances, global
trade and deregulation. The organization of work has taken on new forms, notably through the
creation of autonomous and polyvalent work teams (Hamon-Cholet 2001). Nowadays, workers
evolve in increasingly integrated systems that produce high value and knowledge-based products
(CST 2006). Increased information asymmetries and strategic behaviour, in particular moral
hazard, have been observed to occur more frequently in such situations (Daubas-Létourneux and
Numerous studies have dealt with information asymmetries that lead to difficulties in managing
staff, operations, even contracts. Their impact on health and safety risks is often ignored or
neglected, however. Consequently, health and safety measures may be inadequate or absent
altogether, placing workers at greater and unacceptable risk.
Accordingly, analysis is urgently required to determine ways in which health and safety can be
shared when it is available but cannot be communicated through traditional channels (employers,
health and safety committees, prevention representatives), and where legislative bodies have yet
to act in specific cases (Roy et al. 2000, Daubas-Letourneux and Thébaud-Mony 2001).
A number of options have been set out in the literature with respect to integrating health and
safety initiatives in the management of operations:
• Integrating quality, environment, health and safety management (Labodovà 2004);
• Integrating health and safety management (Garza and Fadier 2005), within a firm’s
management system (Walker 2006), using total quality (Zink 2005), or a remuneration model
(Toupin and al. 2007);
• Integrating health, safety and operations management in manufacturing systems at the design
stage (Winkel and Neumann 2005);
• Integrating organizational factors, safety management systems, human factor considerations
and risk control in major hazard contexts (Bellamy and al. 2006).
Recognizing that quality, health, safety and operations management problems are interrelated
(Wilson 2005), it is essential that all these are integrated in the design (Drais 2005) and planning
stages of manufacturing systems (Saurin et al. 2004, Hare et al. 2006), and to acknowledge
difficulties inherent in attempting to integrate information in dispersed and complex systems (Le
Coze 2005). How might we optimize manufacturing systems while assuring a safe environment
The goal of this five (5) year research program was to identify ways to adapt management of an
activity -- namely the design and planning of manufacturing systems -- to enhance health and
safety, while preserving or improving efficiency, or productivity.
The proposed research resorts to risk management theory, decision theory (agency model, noncooperative game theory and multi-criteria decision analysis), logistic chains and a systemic
approach to organizations, as well as multiple factor accident theory.
The agency model recognizes individuals behave in ways highly oriented to meeting their
personal interests (Hatchuel and Ponssard 1996). It will not only allow us to characterize the
employer-employee relationships in autonomous and polyvalent work, but also to identify
sources of strategic behaviours, cooperation and incentives problems.
Individuals and groups throughout an organization are faced with health and safety issues. Such
problems are often caused by failures in product design, process design, equipment design or
operations management. If such health and safety issues are appropriately addressed, improved
efficiency and productivity can result across the entire organizational system (Simard 2001).
This is why our research efforts focus on the integration of these issues into the process design
and operations management, without parcelling responsibilities out among various stakeholders,
and without undermining control over health and safety risks or productivity.
To generate a risk management model, we used a simultaneous deductive/inductive,
qualitative/quantitative research strategy based on case studies. We used the data-flow model to
analyze and design a prototype risk management model (information system and analytical risk
Case study: Residential and commercial moving industry
This work encounters significant and complex operational constraints that vary with the type of
client, time of year and service provided. The main occupational hazard is low back pain.
Semi-steered interviews and direct observation of teams at work allowed us to collect the
information needed for our analysis. We subsequently used influence diagrams and ranked the
occupational risks identified hierarchically, to conduct our analysis.
This case study illustrates the need to identify operational, health and safety risks systematically
before any task or design is assigned to a team. More specifically, occupational risks are reduced
or eliminated – and occupational safety is correspondingly enhanced – when greater integration
or harmony exists in the organization of work, the supervision offered, the allocation of tasks
among workers, and the relationships maintained with customers (Alexandru and Nadeau 2005).
Training of mechanical engineers
The need to integrate health and safety skills in the undergraduate curriculum for mechanical
engineers is now widely accepted among institutions engaged in occupational safety,
organizations accrediting vocational training in engineering, those concerned with the practice as
it relates to protecting the public, and still others involved in vocational education for engineers.
We proposed a strategy for the creation of a community of researchers that will be supported by a
Web portal. The strategy includes the creation of a collaborative web portal, exchanges through
conferences or symposiums, the development of an online pedagogical workbook, a didactical
databank and case studies.
The main results of this project were a conceptual framework to integrate health and safety
knowledge, a list of risk factors to be covered, a written consent among five institutions
(universities and institutions in charge of occupational safety), framing the dissemination of
material protected by copyright and didactic material to be shared (Hallé and al. 2008)
Case study: Lockout/tagout during maintenance shutdowns
We considered a production problem in a manufacturing system subject to random failures and
repairs. In such a system, all employees must be protected from injuries caused by inadvertent
start-ups of machinery, or release of stored energy during service, repair, maintenance, operation
and associated activities. The goal of this numerical analysis and simulation, based on a nonhomogeneous Markov process, was to find the optimal production rate, preventive maintenance
rates and repair rates, to minimize operating costs, backlog costs, inventory costs and unforeseen
costs (accidents). The effects of machine age-dependent preventive and corrective maintenance
policies on optimal safety stock levels were considered. The control policy found has a hedging
point structure. When we control safety measures, they can be carried out at times that are
optimal in the production cycle (availability of machines, production and health and safety costs)
(Charlot and al. 2006).
Case study: Inter-functional assessment by auditors of manufacturing performance
A control list or questionnaire including hundreds – perhaps thousands – of questions is often
used to audit the performance of a supplier. Results of the assessment can be used not only to
choose a supplier but to improve its performance.
Poor management of investments in ergonomics, health and safety has considerable impact on
corporate performance. Based on this hypothesis, a review of the literature and fault tree analysis,
we designed a logic tree to evaluate performance of an organization in ergonomics, health and
safety. Analysis of the interrelationships among these factors has also been undertaken. Our
study identified links with other corporate functions: Purchasing, engineering, personnel/human
resources, transformation/conversion processes, accounting and maintenance (Julien et al. 2005).
The aggregate result of our studies is a prototype management model (see figure 1 – information
system). Introducing OHS first calls for an understanding of the clients needs and development
of an information system addressing the risks to be managed. It is needed to identify operational,
health and safety risks systematically before any task or design is assigned to a team. Once the
tasks of conceiving the product or process have been allocated to teams, these must be equipped
and assisted in addressing the risks to be managed (whether financial, technological, operational,
legal, environmental, social, regulatory, consumer market, fiscal or OHS). Clearly, the training of
those who will design products and processes needs to include knowledge of OHS that goes hand
in hand with tools used to maintain quality. From the moment production planning of goods or
services gets under way, analytical models integrating the management of OHS risks must be
constructed and allied with classic manufacturing management tools.
Figure 1: Risk management model - autonomous and polyvalent work
The challenge in integrating OHS and operational risks is that operational risks are mostly
detailed and quantitative measures but occupational risks are a mix of quantitative and qualitative
measures, more or less precise, depending on the nature of health and safety risk involved.
The originality of this research resides in the integration of health and safety considerations and
the introduction of prevention schemes adapted to increasingly prevalent new forms of
organization and which have an impact on operations management. We are designing a new
software decision tool, integrating health, safety and operational risk management for
autonomous and polyvalent work. We are confident that the results of this study will be
applicable to other fields facing similar concerns (i.e where autonomous and polyvalent work are
the norm) and that it promises to benefit service operations, information technology, risk
management and decision-making processes within new organizational systems.
This work was made possible by Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
(NSERC), Sous-traitance Industrielle Québec (STIQ), Université du Québec (UQ), École de
technologie supérieure (ETS), Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (UQTR), Université du
Québec à Rimouski (UQAR), Commission de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CSST), Pratt &
Whitney Canada, Réseau de recherche en santé et en sécurité du travail du Québec (RRSSTQ),
grants and the collaboration of several organizations (University of Sherbrooke, École
Polytechnique, Institut de recherché Robert_sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail (IRSST),
Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec (OIQ), Jelco-Alubox and Dessau Soprin).
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