Work environment development using cognitive work analysis’ decision ladders.

  • Abdulqadir Mohamad Suleiman Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority


The study aimed to create decision-making content for workplace work environment development, followed by a limited evaluation to determine the perception of the importance of the identified content in different sectors. Enforcement/administrative orders in workplace inspection reports were used as empirical infor-mation on workplaces. This information was used to design decision ladders, which form the second phase of cognitive work analysis, the activity analysis. The decision ladders, which support decision-making, cov-ered work functions identified in an earlier work domain analysis study, i.e., exposure prevention, organisa-tional management, competence realisation, workers’ empowerment, psychosocial work environment man-agement, and administration. Specified content of decision ladders for each function was used to prepare a questionnaire for evaluating the content validity for work environment development.

Altogether, 29 items were identified as the content for work environment development. Statistical analysis of the limited evaluation showed no significant difference between the different sectors in their perceptions of the importance of the content in developing work environments. Similar sectoral perceptions' trends support the content utility and validity in work environment development.

The procedure formulation step of the decision ladders,  with the phrase “What steps are needed to...” applied preceding the identified content constructs, provides practical activities regarded as essential for work environment development.

Using enforcement inspection reports as the basis for work environment development is a novel approach to addressing workplace safety and health management challenges. Further, the universal utility of the content allows for its implementation across sectors, allowing for workplace-specific decision-making on management measures.