Introduction Constructive ergonomics is characterised by a developmental and participatory approach of occupational health involving the workers at every stage of the prevention intervention. Philosophically, the worker is conceptualised as an active person engaged with his own values in a complex social and technical environment, and able to (re)act on this environment. Work can be therefore either a resource for personal development and well-being or a source of negative health effects and ethical conflicts in case of contradiction between the work physical, mental and emotional demands and workers’ capabilities or personal values. The concept of ‘operational leeway’ is defined by the space of freedom available or constructed by workers individually or collectively, to elaborate alternative ways of working and strategies according to their skills, knowledge and values in order to achieve production targets while reducing as much as possible the psychological, mental and physical strains and avoiding negative health effects.
Methods We will explain the similarities between the concepts of constructive ergonomics, capabilities and effective freedom of choice – proposed by the economist and philosopher Amartya Sen -, and workers’ power to act developed by the French philosopher Paul Ricoeur. According to ergonomics of activity, workers’ power to act may be created when operational leeway and capabilities are sufficient to allow workers developing their own working strategies and skills according to their personal values. According to constructive ergonomics, implementing work situations and work organisation allowing the development of sufficient operational leeway and power to act is a key issue to promote workers’ health and sustainable working conditions.
Discussion Constructive ergonomics argues in favour of a developmental perspective of health at work. Its usefulness to improve strategies of promotion of health at work and promote integrated approaches of the prevention in Occupational Health will be discussed.
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