OHS consultants as facilitators of learning processes in client enterprises

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


    In carrying out consultancy the Danish occupational health services (OHS) are supposed to support and develop the capabilities of enterprises to manage work environment issues. This may be interpreted in a learning perspective: As part of the process consultancy the OHS consultants have to put emphasis on initiating learning processes in the client enter-prise in a way that will develop the OHS management capabilities of that enterprise. This presentation is based on a research program focussing on how OHS consultants go about when they are involved in consultancy on technological change processes in client enter-prises. Specifically the learning perspective will be touched upon. The research programme included four cases in different client enterprises: 1) New tech-nology in a logistic department of a brewery, 2) new pharmaceutical process facility, 3) design of a new catering centre in a public institution, and 4) new factory building. The results indicated differences across the OHS consultants studied when it came to the learning aspects of their work practice. In terms of organizational learning, the most com-mon observed effect in the client enterprise was single loop learning, meaning corrective actions within the existing system of methods and procedures. A single case demonstrated, when framed in a social learning perspective, an OHS con-sultant (an occupational therapist) capable of facilitating meetings between different com-munities of practice in the enterprise. In a traditional conflict-oriented brewery organization the consultant had a major role in facilitating a cross functional work group of workers and managers that were able to set up and implement an action plan for the implementation of new technology and new work organization in the logistic department focussing on reduc-ing the work loads of delivery and warehouse personnel. In facilitating learning processes, deliberately or by incidence, the OHS consultants used different boundary objects. An example: In order to involve users in the design process it was better making a walk-through in a new catering centre in another institution than pre-sent the users to blueprints and then ask them to put forward technical suggestions to im-prove the workplace design. In conclusion, the study pointed out that the OHS consultants had different work practices on learning aspects of their consultancy. Several constraining and enabling factors for de-veloping the learning aspects of OHS consultancy were identified including consultant competencies as well as support from the OHS unit.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationTowards a multidimensional approach in occupational health services: scientific evidence, social con
    Publication date2004
    Publication statusPublished - 2004
    EventInternational Commission on Occupational Health - Modena
    Duration: 5 Nov 1829 → …


    ConferenceInternational Commission on Occupational Health
    Period05/11/1829 → …


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