Challenges in Implementing Inclusive Participatory OHS Management Approaches Sensitive to Gender and Diversity Issues

  • Valérie LedererEmail author
  • Jessica Riel
Conference paper
Part of the Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing book series (AISC, volume 826)


Purpose: Although the effectiveness of participatory approaches in occupational health and safety (OHS) is, in theory, widely recognized today [1, 2], their implementation is sometimes guided by power relations or by the interests of the most vocal stakeholders to the detriment of others. Several challenges remain to implement it fully in the workplace and to achieve the active, inclusive and representative participation of all stakeholders in terms of gender and, more broadly, diversity (ex. ethnicity, language, age, (dis)abilities) [3, 4]. The research question of the present study was: What are the favorable and unfavorable conditions for implementing inclusive participatory OHS management approaches that integrate gender and diversity issues?

Methods: We conducted an iterative scoping review of the literature following Arksey and O’Malley’s guidelines [5]. We searched several databases including Pubmed, PsycInfo, Web of Science and Google Scholar for discussion or research on diversity management in participatory approaches in ergonomics and in OHS management. Papers were screened for inclusion based on their title and abstract at first and based on full text, as a second step. Information were extracted on composition/functioning of the work group, values/beliefs/attitudes towards gender and diversity, social climate, financial/human/operational resources. We performed a qualitative thematic analysis and synthetized the evidence and the questions/hypotheses/practical considerations raised in the discussion of the topic. From this analysis, we derived a conceptual framework.

Results: This research demonstrated the potential for participatory approaches sensitive to gender and diversity to overcome some of the limits of the classical OHS management approaches. We synthetized and discussed the principal barriers and facilitators to implementing inclusive participatory approaches in OHS and proposed a conceptual framework for the implementation of inclusive participatory approaches. Three dimensions were identified to a successful implementation of inclusive participatory approaches sensitive to gender/diversity: (a) establishment of a working group representative of the diversity within the organization, (b) integration of issues related to gender/diversity into the discussions, (c) establishment of a shared equitable decision-making process (ex. commitment of all stakeholders, exchange of information, skills acquisition in order to balance power relations). Various barriers and facilitators were identified.

Conclusions: Understanding and addressing the principal barriers and facilitators to a greater inclusion and diversity in participatory approaches could ultimately lead to improved participatory interventions to everyone’s benefit.


Participatory approach Gender Implementation 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Département de relations industriellesUniversité du Québec en OutaouaisGatineauCanada

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