Integrating ergonomics principles and workplace health protection and promotion to improve safety and health at work – evidence from Estonia
¹,³Estonian Entrepreneurship University of Applied Sciences, Suur-Sõjamäe 10a,
EE11415 Tallinn, Estonia
²Tallinn University of Technology, Ehitajate 5, EE19086 Tallinn, Estonia
Previous scientific literature indicates that organisations manage workplace health promotion (WHP) in different ways. Despite conceptual and empirical justification, researchers have not consistently included concepts of WHP in ergonomics and safety studies.
The objective of the study is to explore workplace health protection and promotion activities available in Estonian organisations and to assess how ergonomic principles are integrated with workplace health protection and promotion within an organisation.
The current study adopted a multi-method approach. The WHP activities were evaluated using the questionnaire of 36 items administrated to all members (organisations) of the Estonian Human Resource Management Association. A qualitative approach includes eight case studies (organisations, with the best practices of WHP and ergonomic interventions), semi-structured interviews with human resource personnel.
The data reveal key issues in WHP management in Estonian organisations. A statistical analysis of WHP questionnaires shows many organisations with outstanding programs and positive employers’ perceptions towards WHP. However, qualitative data indicate some important aspects of WHP and drawing attention to contextual variables in the development of safety management systems and improving the integration of ergonomics programs with WHP. The main contribution of the study is providing the conceptual clarification on incorporated WHP, how it complements a safety management system and showing its possible effect on employees’ health, safety behaviour and on knowledge exchange. It is essential for the established WHP program to have a fully integrated part of safety management system in the organisation and employees’ health and healthy behaviour must be recognised, acknowledged and be managed.