The wicked character of psychosocial risks: Implications for regulation

Anne Helbo Jespersen, Peter Hasle, Klaus Tranetoft Nielsen

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    Resumé

    Psychosocial risks constitute a significant problem in most workplaces, and they are generally considered more difficult to regulate than many other occupational health and safety risks. This article investigates the challenges of regulating psychosocial risks in the workplace. The difficulties lie in the particular nature of psychosocial risks: their complexity, uncertainty, value, and power divergences. Psychosocial risks therefore resemble ‘wicked problems’, typically characterized by unclear cause-effect relationships and uncertain solutions. We use the ‘wicked problems’ concept to show how workplace regulation, and particularly the enforcement in the form of inspection and
    audits of certified occupational health and safety management systems, face challenges in assessing psychosocial risks and the strategies used by regulators to overcome these challenges. While regulation has become more effective in several countries, a better understanding of the nature of the challenges is still needed. It is necessary to accept the uncertain nature of psychosocial
    risks in the search for more efficient regulation. Achieving more effective regulation should involve stakeholders in the workplace who deal with the prerogatives of management, and should help develop the competencies of the inspectors and auditors in the field.
    OriginalsprogEngelsk
    TidsskriftNordic Journal of Working Life Studies
    Vol/bind6
    Udgave nummer3
    Sider (fra-til)23-42
    Antal sider20
    ISSN2245-0157
    StatusUdgivet - 2016

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    Occupational Health
    regulation
    Workplace
    workplace
    Safety Management
    health
    management
    divergence
    Uncertainty
    stakeholder
    uncertainty
    cause
    Work place
    Values
    Wicked problems

    Citer dette

    Helbo Jespersen, Anne ; Hasle, Peter ; Nielsen, Klaus Tranetoft. / The wicked character of psychosocial risks : Implications for regulation. I: Nordic Journal of Working Life Studies. 2016 ; Bind 6, Nr. 3. s. 23-42.
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    The wicked character of psychosocial risks : Implications for regulation. / Helbo Jespersen, Anne; Hasle, Peter; Nielsen, Klaus Tranetoft.

    I: Nordic Journal of Working Life Studies, Bind 6, Nr. 3, 2016, s. 23-42.

    Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review

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    AU - Hasle, Peter

    AU - Nielsen, Klaus Tranetoft

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    N2 - Psychosocial risks constitute a significant problem in most workplaces, and they are generally considered more difficult to regulate than many other occupational health and safety risks. This article investigates the challenges of regulating psychosocial risks in the workplace. The difficulties lie in the particular nature of psychosocial risks: their complexity, uncertainty, value, and power divergences. Psychosocial risks therefore resemble ‘wicked problems’, typically characterized by unclear cause-effect relationships and uncertain solutions. We use the ‘wicked problems’ concept to show how workplace regulation, and particularly the enforcement in the form of inspection andaudits of certified occupational health and safety management systems, face challenges in assessing psychosocial risks and the strategies used by regulators to overcome these challenges. While regulation has become more effective in several countries, a better understanding of the nature of the challenges is still needed. It is necessary to accept the uncertain nature of psychosocialrisks in the search for more efficient regulation. Achieving more effective regulation should involve stakeholders in the workplace who deal with the prerogatives of management, and should help develop the competencies of the inspectors and auditors in the field.

    AB - Psychosocial risks constitute a significant problem in most workplaces, and they are generally considered more difficult to regulate than many other occupational health and safety risks. This article investigates the challenges of regulating psychosocial risks in the workplace. The difficulties lie in the particular nature of psychosocial risks: their complexity, uncertainty, value, and power divergences. Psychosocial risks therefore resemble ‘wicked problems’, typically characterized by unclear cause-effect relationships and uncertain solutions. We use the ‘wicked problems’ concept to show how workplace regulation, and particularly the enforcement in the form of inspection andaudits of certified occupational health and safety management systems, face challenges in assessing psychosocial risks and the strategies used by regulators to overcome these challenges. While regulation has become more effective in several countries, a better understanding of the nature of the challenges is still needed. It is necessary to accept the uncertain nature of psychosocialrisks in the search for more efficient regulation. Achieving more effective regulation should involve stakeholders in the workplace who deal with the prerogatives of management, and should help develop the competencies of the inspectors and auditors in the field.

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