Design guidelines for a safer working environment to reduce accidents in an industrial workplace
service design, design research, safety design, industrial factory
In the past five years, the number of accidents in the manufacturing industry has been slightly decreasing, but the number of accidents in the manufacturing of metal materials has been higher than the average (about 1.7 times higher). There were different types of accidents such as abnormal temperature contact, hit by objects, collision, narrowness, and work disease.
This project set out to improve its safety in the industrial workplace and reduce accidents by using service design method. For the initiative, the project was supported by Korea Institute of Design Promotion(KIDP) as part of "Industrial Complex Safety Accident "Zero" Living Area Creation Project". As KIDP matched a company to our company, Neonent, a major supplier for parts to the automobile industry, was given to us as a client. Neonent was located in Yangsan where many of industrial companies exist.
Overview of the client
• Main Products : Manufacture of automotive parts, metallic materials
• Total number of employees : 135
• Number of foreign workers : 51 (more than half of the field positions)
• Number of accidents in a year : about 10 cases
Design researcher at Backstage co.,ltd.
: user research, concept development, visualisation, validation
We started to observe workers' behaviours and characteristics of the working environment by Ethnographic method. A format for observation was designed in order to efficiently record the features and the conditions of working movement of the workers. Wearing a dust mask in the workplace was necessary for the observation because of its poor working environment.
In order to discover the worker's inner desires, feelings, and attitudes about safety awareness, we interviewed with 9 participants selecting based on their work experience, nationality and position (4 workers in the Post-processing zone, 4 workers in the Melting zone and 1 manager). As a majority of field workers was Indonesian or Malaysian and even they couldn't speak Korean and English, the most demanding part during the research was communication with them. So, we hired an interpreter who is a native Indonesian for communicating with interviewees.
The behavior of workers at each process could be defined through the journey map by dividing it into steps from starting work to leaving work. We collected the major risk factors for each process to identify opportunities for accidents. The below picture is a part of journey maps we made with one persona in the Melting zone.
The more experienced,
the more insensitive to safety
Need enough rest
Impossible to communicate
with most foreign workers
Insufficient management including
equipment, safety training, etc.
A workshop was held in order to come up with ideas with the client’s employees. However, because the foreign workers were not allowed to participate in the workshop due to a request of the company, there was a limitation made in coming up with provider-oriented ideas even though the majority of workers were foreigners.
For the workshop, Mandal art method as a brainstorming was utilised to create diverse ideas. Based on the research, we brought 8 major risk factors to the workshop and tried to come up with at least 8 ideas for each factor.
In order to select the priority for ideas, correlation evaluation and reachability were conducted with the client’s staff. We brought digital sketches of each idea to better communicate with the client. These visuals were very helpful to evaluate ideas more in a cognitive way. We ended up agreeing on the choice of ideas on the spot because we evaluated them with the client.
During the evaluation workshop with the client, we drew the arrows together by writing the reasons for the post-it that were related to one another. More relevance was considered as a top priority.
Develop a manual that enables smooth communication between foreign and Korean workers
Regular safety education and signage enable workers to be careful
Improve the break room with sufficient and regular break times
Establish a more pleasant and safe working environment
It is absolutely required for the factory to prepare the measures to mitigate the safety risks and it also requires continued attention and management. So far, the majority of design approaches to reduce the safety accident have been made on the visual design area such a designing of simple safety signs. However, now it is required a variety of research case studies that are taken into account of various factors like service, environment, product, and visual aspects to address the root cause of safety issues as a long-term safety plan. In addition to this, a safer working environment might be established only when sustainable safety management systems are effectively linked with safety signs, surrounded environment, and the facilities.