Cases / Everyday work safety

Safety and health at work – every day

The Danish Working Environment Authority finds it difficult to reach enterprises with guidelines on work environment and safety. MindLab helped draw a picture of people’s everyday working environment through interviews and observation at selected workplaces. That inspired the project team to develop new ideas for effective communication that can promote safe behaviour at work.

What does the safety representative in a nursing home do when her colleagues cannot get an overweight resident up the many stairs of the building, and what other work safety problems does the building hide? The Working Environment Authority currently informs enterprises about rules and regulations through formal guidelines and directives These documents often end up being long and technical and are therefore difficult for workers to apply when facing an immediate and specific problem. The Working Environment Authority was thus interested in how they could improve their communication with enterprises and their staff.

”The guidelines are very hard to understand. They are long and complicated and then it gets boring. Especially the one about ear defenders. I caught myself thinking about what to make for dinner”

Secretary, construction company.

MindLab involved

• Work environment managers and ”ordinary” employees in three construction companies and in three nursing home
• Trade unions and employer organisations
• External experts with a diversity of relevant professional backgrounds

Principal results

• Seven specific ideas on innovative communication initiatives
• Insights in the enterprises’ challenges with securing a safe and healthy workplace
• Knowledge about different work environment related roles within the enterprises
• Knowledge about the different external actors that might help enterprises understand rules and regulations to improve health and safety

MindLab did

MindLab interviewed work environment supervisors in six enterprises to find out how they understand working environment, how they gain knowledge about work environment, and what efforts they undertake to improve the working environment. MindLab also carried out one-day participant observation in four of the enterprises to find out how the working environment-related challenges are handled on an everyday basis. This helped MindLab understand why it can be difficult to create and maintain a good working environment.

The insights from the research were the basis for the development of new ideas on how the Working Environment Authority can help enterprises improve the working environment through more effective communication. Both employees from the Working Environment Authority, trade unions, employer organisations and individuals from entirely unrelated fields contributed to the process of generating ideas.

Seven specific ideas were chosen for further tests, and MindLab created prototypes of the ideas, which were tested with four enterprises. The enterprises made it clear that it would be a good idea with more concrete examples in the existing guidelines and the possibility to comment directly on the web guidelines. The Working Environment Authority now proceeds developing these? ideas.

”If you knew how many times the guys at the workshop have listened to the radio. Sometimes they even have the ear defenders hanging around their necks. It is crazy that they don’t use them”

Work environment supervisor, construction company

Andre cases

Meaningful monitoring and helpful guidance

When little things make a big difference

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