Participatory workspace design: A new approach for ergonomists?

Rikke Seim, Ole Broberg

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    Ergonomics are rarely addressed directly in the design and re-design of workspaces in Denmark. Often architects, engineers and other actors design the workspaces on the basis of for example spatial, technological or finan-cial considerations, thereby making ergonomics a by-product of the design process. However, by introducing ergonomists in the role of ‘workspace de-signers’ early in the design process, ergonomic considerations as well as the involvement of employees, can be integrated in the design process. In this article we demonstrate the use of the workspace design approach in a case study where an industrial manufacturer is undergoing a major technological change: going from labour intensive manual work to a highly automated production. The workspace design team, which included the company’s OHS consultant, designed the intervention as a participatory design process by using visually based methods such as workbooks, layout workshops and use scenarios. Employees, management and external design engineers alike took actively part in the design process. The general outcome of the inter-vention was some very concrete changes in the proposed design layout, an enhanced clarity of the production procedures in the new plant, and an identification of potential future ergonomic problems. This case study indi-cates that workspace design can be a new approach for OHS consultants.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalInternational Journal of Industrial Ergonomics
    Issue number1
    Pages (from-to)25-33
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


    • OHS consultants
    • Workspace design
    • Participatory ergonomics
    • Participatory design


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