How to analyze a work situation ?

A work situation is not the same as a profession.The work situation must be studied according to 3 approaches, necessary for a good understanding and taking into account of the different elements that make it such as it is.

The ergonomic approach takes into account different aspects of the activity such as: tasks, objectives / missions and real activity to address the work situation. It is imperative to take into account the different spectra of the profession (physiological, biomechanical, sociological, psychological, cognitive, social, economic, ...).

What do we analyze ?

First of all, a work situation can be observed according to the «missions-tasks-activities» approach which can be translated as «what is requested?», «How should the employee do this?» and «how does the employee do this?». The mission expresses the goals (or meaning) of the actions carried out by an employee within the framework of his professional activity. The tasks represent the operations to be carried out, what he must do, what is asked of him.

The employee's work activity is how results are achieved and the means used, is to say that the difference between what we asked and what it actually does to achieve it.

Why analyze a work situation?

As part of projects such as the integration of new technologies or reorganization of workstations, it is necessary first to analyze the work situation of stakeholders. This analysis makes it possible to understand the functioning and the challenges of the work situation in the organization. The analysis is essential to identify the determinants of the activity which require a change or an adaptation to improve the working conditions of the employees.

Finally, the analysis makes it possible to understand the employee's activity in the spectra (mentioned above) and to propose the solution best suited to real needs.

Who analyzes the work situation ??

In the professional context, it is occupational medicine or ergonomists who analyze these situations to adapt the work to employees. However, employees may have to observe themselves if they have been previously trained or made aware (via working groups led by an ergonomist or by setting up training sessions led by employees, etc.).

How to analyze this ?

It all depends on what we are trying to analyze: an attitude, skills, a sign of fatigue or physically demanding situations, the organization, the environment, etc. For this, the ergonomist has several tools to accumulate data: observation grid, videos, photos, interviews, "verbatims" or notes.

There are several phases of analysis depending on the depth of reflection you want to achieve. We start from a “broader view”, a global view of the activity, or even the organization, until targeting a particular situation, or even a gesture.

What to do after analyzing the work situation ?

When all the data has been capitalized, we can use it to move on to diagnosis. The ergonomist tries to bring out reflections, questions related to what the employees have said, which can confirm or refute his hypotheses. This phase makes it possible to identify avenues for improvement or recommendations on what can be implemented for the employee and for the organization. The data are useful after exploitation and return to the company, they are capitalized by the ergonomist to give him a basis for future similar projects.