In order to improve our understanding of how corporate strategies can affect worker
health we organised a special symposium at the 2003 international ergonomics
association (IEA) conference in Seoul Korea.
While global productivity has been increasing so have employees work-related disorders
and related costs. We invited 4 groups from around the world to share their recent
experiences examining how strategic decisions by manufacturers can affect ergonomics
in the resulting work systems. The bulk of this report is their written work and visual
aids used in the symposium presentations.
Each presenter dealt with a different aspect of Strategy.
Key Findings Include:
• Work-related disorders have their roots as unintended side-effects of early
strategic decisions made in the production system design process.
• Ergonomists are political agents who should seek coalitions of support to
promote ergonomic priorities and objectives in the organisation
• Companies can improve productivity and ergonomics simultaneously in
improvement projects. (Though, despite apparent success the work might not be
• Corporate strategies can have both positive and negative effects on ergonomics –
participatory ergonomic strategies show good results, ‘lean’ approaches and
‘downsizing’ can lead to increases in risk.
• While sociotechnically innovative production systems are being abandoned,
elements of these systems appear to have both productivity and ergonomics
benefits over traditional line-based assembly.
This international symposium has served both to raise awareness of, and share
information on, the importance of corporate strategy as an early determinate of workrelated
disorders of operators in modern production systems.
“International Symposium – Corporate Strategy, Production System Design, and Musculoskeletal Health.” Report on a symposium organised at the International Ergonomics Association Triennial congress in Seoul, Korea (2003). Technical Report Produced for Land och Sjofonden by W.P. Neumann.