Origins of MSDs - Organizational factors

Origins of MSDs - Organizational factors

Last week, we talked about the physical and psychosocial factors that promote the onset of MSDs. Let's talk about organizational factors today.


Organizational factors are more obvious to detect during the ergonomic study. On the other hand, these are the hardest factors to transform during an intervention because they are the determinants linked to the policy of a company, to the economic choices and to the human resources which can be consequent.
Organizational factors will condition the work activity of the employee in all its dimensions, whether at the physical level with the material aspect of the workstation, his working environment or his working conditions. The economic aspect comes into play, as do the means made available to it and the cultural aspect.


These are often issues that are beyond the visible for the ergonomist, here he will perceive the consequences of the organization in the activity of the operator. It is by questioning precisely this visible part that we can gain access to this invisible aspect of work.


Here are some organizational factors with the example of the repercussions they can have on the activity of the operator:
"Tight Flow" is a production method that consists of producing only what the customer needs, that is, the company does not have a stock of a product with which it can juggle production and delivery. This organization allows the company to economically reduce the cost by having smaller premises, by avoiding the maintenance of stocks and by acquiring only the raw material necessary for the activity...

However, the just in time flow has a backlash in the level of operator activity, it can be a source of stress by defining “Rush” (= sudden and sudden influx of work), or sustained and generally violent activity for operators. operators, causing MSD, fatigue (physical and mental), annoyance and/or aggression.
Some labels, especially in the food industry, require specific organization and the establishment of specific features to guarantee the company a certain level of quality with consumers. For example, IFS standards guarantee relatively impeccable product quality. Checks in companies can be frequent, we can see the use of blouses, charlotte and gloves in some workshops to ensure a certain environmental hygiene.

There is then an organization which can, for example, restrict the activity of external service providers (work, installation of new machines, etc.) with specific uniforms and rules, so as to maintain this food safety in all cases. Going further, it is even the organization in terms of the layout of the workshops that may be impacted, which may then impose constraints between "clean" or non-"clean" areas.
For companies with a seasonal type of organization, the needs for operators are strong during certain periods of the year, which allows the company to maximize its cost at the employee level by only hiring these operators during production.
From the operator's point of view, these are generally well-paid jobs to compensate for the fact that they are often arduous jobs, with uncertainty in terms of employability (see Article on RPS). Companies can avoid setting up training for their operators, and induce risks at all levels. We can also add constraints independent of the employee, such as weather, consumption or the risk of a pandemic, for example.
The ergonomist's job is not then to find the perfect organization, because there are always people who adapt perfectly to each type of organization, but the ergonomist must learn to deal with it, and find the most useful avenues for operators and for the organization in order to meet expectations as much as possible.