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Open AccessArticle

Can Complexity-Thinking Methods Contribute to Improving Occupational Safety in Industry 4.0? A Review of Safety Analysis Methods and Their Concepts

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Centre for Industrial Management/Traffic and Infrastructure, KU Leuven, Celestijnenlaan 300 – box 2422, 3001 Leuven, Belgium
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Robotics Research Group, KU Leuven, Celestijnenlaan 300 – box 2420, 3001 Leuven, Belgium
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Flanders [email protected] Leuven, Core Lab ROB, Celestijnenlaan 300 – box 2420, 3001 Leuven, Belgium
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Safety 2019, 5(4), 65; https://doi.org/10.3390/safety5040065
Received: 24 August 2019 / Revised: 23 September 2019 / Accepted: 27 September 2019 / Published: 3 October 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Occupational Health and Safety New Challenges for Industry)
With the introduction of Industry 4.0, occupational health and safety finds itself confronted with new types of hazards. Many Industry 4.0 innovations involve increased machine intelligence. These properties make socio-technical work in Industry 4.0 applications inherently more complex. At the same time, system failure can become more opaque to its users. This paper reviews and assesses safety analysis methods as the breakdown of interaction coupling in socio-technical systems on the one hand, and the degree of failure tractability on the other hand; the latter being used as a proxy for complexity. Previous literature confirms that traditional health and safety risk assessment methods are unable or are ‘ill-equipped’ to deal with these system properties. This paper studies the need to introduce new paradigms and safety methods related to complexity thinking with theories borrowed from the study of complex adaptive systems, all to assess the arena of abruptly changing hazards introduced by Industry 4.0. At the same time, this review makes clear that there is no one-solution-fits-all method. Occupational health and safety (OHS) covers many different hazard types and will need a combination of old, new and yet-to-be-developed safety assessment methods. View Full-Text
Keywords: industry 4.0; occupational safety; complexity thinking; systems thinking; safety-II; safety analysis methods; resilience engineering; risk assessment industry 4.0; occupational safety; complexity thinking; systems thinking; safety-II; safety analysis methods; resilience engineering; risk assessment
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MDPI and ACS Style

Adriaensen, A.; Decré, W.; Pintelon, L. Can Complexity-Thinking Methods Contribute to Improving Occupational Safety in Industry 4.0? A Review of Safety Analysis Methods and Their Concepts. Safety 2019, 5, 65.

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