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Exploring goal conflicts and how they are managed in a biomedical laboratory using Rasmussen's model of boundaries

Vijayan, Viji LU (2018) FLMU06 20172
Division of Risk Management and Societal Safety
Abstract
Occupational health and safety management systems are widely used as a systematic approach to
managing occupational health and safety in organizations. One important element of which is the development of Standard Operating Procedures to ensure uniform written safety procedures throughout the organization. Such procedures are sometimes restrictive and inadequate to deal with the dynamic and changing workplace of today. Workers will realize that there are degrees of freedom (Rasmussen, 1997) available to them and they will use it to adjust their work such that they remain productive in spite of other constraints like work load, resource availability, restrictive safety procedures, etc. Rasmussen used a model of boundaries to plot this... (More)
Occupational health and safety management systems are widely used as a systematic approach to
managing occupational health and safety in organizations. One important element of which is the development of Standard Operating Procedures to ensure uniform written safety procedures throughout the organization. Such procedures are sometimes restrictive and inadequate to deal with the dynamic and changing workplace of today. Workers will realize that there are degrees of freedom (Rasmussen, 1997) available to them and they will use it to adjust their work such that they remain productive in spite of other constraints like work load, resource availability, restrictive safety procedures, etc. Rasmussen used a model of boundaries to plot this variability in performance, in which the operating point is the point in the space within three boundaries where a person performs the work. The three boundaries he described are economic failure, workload and functionally acceptable performance.
This project focuses on applying Rasmussen’s model of boundaries to a biomedical research laboratory by gathering interview data from fifteen participants. The three boundaries identified were scientific output boundary, workload boundary and safety boundary. The results show that the most central goal was to be the first to publish and this formed the scientific output boundary. Factors contributing to workload were long and tedious nature of experiments, multiple projects, resource availability and time-consuming safety regulations. The workers had developed good resilience building methods to ensure that they did not cross any boundary. Mental risk assessments before deviating from safety procedures, team work, experience and familiarity were constantly used to remain within the boundaries. The very dynamic nature of the work was evident by the fact that the above methods were used not to avoid just one boundary but all three. For example, team work helped to remain safe while ensuring that the experimental results were not jeopardized at the same time keeping the individual workload manageable.
Using the information obtained in this project it is clear that a strict regulation-based approach is inadequate to deal with the dynamic demands in a biomedical laboratory and a customised portfolio of rule-based and risk assessment-based approach would be more suitable. The rule- based organization-wide instructions will invite compliance when they are correct (commensurate on risk) and rewarding. These will always lack the requisite variety needed to deal with constantly changing work demands which need to be dealt with using local risk-based resilience building practices. The workers had already developed good resilience building methods and it would be important to build on this through properly tailored training. (Less)
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author
Vijayan, Viji LU
supervisor
organization
course
FLMU06 20172
year
type
H1 - Master's Degree (One Year)
subject
keywords
Rasmussen’s model, Resilience, Degrees of Freedom, FLMU06, Safety, Risk Management, Biomedical
language
English
id
8937848
date added to LUP
2018-04-12 11:43:29
date last changed
2018-04-12 11:43:29
@misc{8937848,
  abstract     = {Occupational health and safety management systems are widely used as a systematic approach to
managing occupational health and safety in organizations. One important element of which is the development of Standard Operating Procedures to ensure uniform written safety procedures throughout the organization. Such procedures are sometimes restrictive and inadequate to deal with the dynamic and changing workplace of today. Workers will realize that there are degrees of freedom (Rasmussen, 1997) available to them and they will use it to adjust their work such that they remain productive in spite of other constraints like work load, resource availability, restrictive safety procedures, etc. Rasmussen used a model of boundaries to plot this variability in performance, in which the operating point is the point in the space within three boundaries where a person performs the work. The three boundaries he described are economic failure, workload and functionally acceptable performance.
This project focuses on applying Rasmussen’s model of boundaries to a biomedical research laboratory by gathering interview data from fifteen participants. The three boundaries identified were scientific output boundary, workload boundary and safety boundary. The results show that the most central goal was to be the first to publish and this formed the scientific output boundary. Factors contributing to workload were long and tedious nature of experiments, multiple projects, resource availability and time-consuming safety regulations. The workers had developed good resilience building methods to ensure that they did not cross any boundary. Mental risk assessments before deviating from safety procedures, team work, experience and familiarity were constantly used to remain within the boundaries. The very dynamic nature of the work was evident by the fact that the above methods were used not to avoid just one boundary but all three. For example, team work helped to remain safe while ensuring that the experimental results were not jeopardized at the same time keeping the individual workload manageable.
Using the information obtained in this project it is clear that a strict regulation-based approach is inadequate to deal with the dynamic demands in a biomedical laboratory and a customised portfolio of rule-based and risk assessment-based approach would be more suitable. The rule- based organization-wide instructions will invite compliance when they are correct (commensurate on risk) and rewarding. These will always lack the requisite variety needed to deal with constantly changing work demands which need to be dealt with using local risk-based resilience building practices. The workers had already developed good resilience building methods and it would be important to build on this through properly tailored training.},
  author       = {Vijayan, Viji},
  keyword      = {Rasmussen’s model,Resilience,Degrees of Freedom,FLMU06,Safety,Risk Management,Biomedical},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Exploring goal conflicts and how they are managed in a biomedical laboratory using Rasmussen's model of boundaries},
  year         = {2018},
}