NIOSHTIC-2 Publications Search

Accidents and Sociotechnical Systems: Principles for Design.

Robinson GH
NIOSH 1982 Feb:75-89
Sociotechnical systems theory is discussed, and utilized in a case study of redesign of an underground mine. Sociotechnical systems theory represents a novel method of conceptualizing and designing organizations. It is based upon the necessity of arranging simultaneous optimization of the interacting technical and social systems within an organization. In a case study of a coal mine operation, overall productivity decreased following installation of a sophisticated machine for removing coal from the mine well. This suggested that the social system of the organization was improperly designed for the new technology. One major unforeseen problem was associated with middle managers who objected to the new authority given to workers to assume responsibility for management level decisions. Redress of this problem, along with the implementation of autonomous worker groups and a reduction in safety defeating competition between shifts, lead to improved productivity and safety. Further discussions of sociotechnical principles and their application to industrial environments were given.
Worker-motivation; Worker-health; Mining-equipment; Mining-industry; Industrial-design; Industrial-environment; Industrial-psychology
Publication Date
Document Type
Conference/Symposia Proceedings
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 82-103
Source Name
Proceedings of the Symposium on Occupational Safety Research and Education, January, 1981, DHHS(NIOSH) Publication No. 82-103
Page last reviewed: February 11, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division