Activities of subcontractor first-line supervisors and MSD prevention: collective regulations with employees of the user company

Abstract : Background. The way the work process is organized for subcontracted work can give rise to the employees of the subcontractor being organizationally dependent on the employees of the client. Such dependency can limit the situational room for maneuver that the subcontractor’s employees have, thereby increasing the risk of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). First-line supervisors constitute the last level that can influence this dependence in the way they participate in organizing the work of the operatives they supervise. Focusing on subcontracted teams working in the meat-cutting industry, our aim was to investigate how first-line supervisors manage dependent operatives and the implications for MSD prevention. Methods. The method was a qualitative research-based analysis of the activities of two subcontractor, first-line supervisors in different meat-cutting companies. Our methodology relied on observations of these supervisors (spread over different times of days and years) as they managed the supervised team. The supervisors were then shown video recordings of their activities to identify any underlying aims in the observed situations. Results. Both supervisors sought to limit organizational dependence by collectively working with employees to manage the production process. The collective activity took the form of the supervisor cooperating with and helping, in a spirit of mutual assistance, cutting operatives or supervisors, depending on the production being observed. The mutual assistance observed allowed the supervised operatives room to maneuver. The aims expressed, performance or health, vary depending on the supervisor and the representation of the risk. Discussion. Better understanding conditions for development of collective regulations between the subcontractors and the employees of the user company is a relevant avenue to be pursued for improving the prevention of MSDs in subcontracted work. We need to understand goals pursued by employees of the user company.
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Contributor : Fabien Coutarel <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, June 28, 2016 - 5:49:59 PM
Last modification on : Monday, July 8, 2019 - 3:08:13 PM


  • HAL Id : halshs-01338560, version 1


Aude Cuny-Guerrier, Sandrine Caroly, Fabien Coutarel, Agnès Aublet-Cuvelier. Activities of subcontractor first-line supervisors and MSD prevention: collective regulations with employees of the user company. Preventing work-related musculoskeletal disorders in a global economy, Institute for Work & Health, Jun 2016, Toronto, Canada. pp.198. ⟨halshs-01338560⟩



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