Training of occupational health and safety professionals in design thinking

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There is a need for making occupational health and safety management more agile and involving relevant stakeholders early on in the problem-solving process. We propose the design thinking (DT) approach as a candidate for this endeavour. DT may be defined by the double diamond model pointing to a non-linear problem-solving process iterating through divergent and convergent phases. The first diamond is focussed on exploring and defining the problem to be solved. In the second diamond many ideas for solutions are developed and tested, and in the end the best solution is chosen. In this study we investigate if occupational health and safety professionals can learn a DT approach with the help of a training program. It was our assumption that the ‘designerly’ way of problem framing and solving were well suited for complex workplace problems. Hence, we designed an interactive research project in which six experienced professionals from three organisations completed a DT training program. The ultimate goal of the project was to develop guidelines and tools that can support occupational health and safety professionals in applying the DT approach. The six participants in the training program were four internal professionals in companies and two professionals in an occupational health service consultancy. After a full-day workshop in which we introduced the DT approach and tools, the participants were instructed to plan and facilitate a DT problem-solving process in their own company or within a customer company. The company cases included two focusing on a psychosocial workplace challenge and two focusing on a musculoskeletal challenge. The first two cases were both within municipality services, and the others were in a pharmaceutical company and a mail distribution centre.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Ergonomics and Human Factors Conference 2020
Publication date2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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