The components of the subcontracting supervisors’ operational leeway: An issue for musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) prevention

Empirical researches
By Aude Cuny-Guerrier, Sandrine Caroly, Fabien Coutarel, Agnès Aublet-Cuvelier


One issue of musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) prevention concerns the development of situational operational leeway for all actors of an organisation. The situational operational leeway of first-line supervisors is decisive because their possibilities to deal with critical situations influence the characteristics of the activities of supervised operators. The aim was to identify the components of the situational operational leeway of two supervisors, working through subcontracting, in the meat cutting sector. When the supervision work is done on a client’s premises in a subcontracting relationship, those resources might well be reconfigured. The results led to the identification of characteristics which could support the possibility for supervisors to deal with critical situation taking into account the prevention of MSDs prevention for supervised operators. Through the analysis of 15 critical situations’ regulations, it appeared that situational operational leeway was built up in the combination of individual, organisational and collective components. In this subcontracting context, the collective components are observed in interaction with the team and with workers of user companies. The individual components related to the supervisor appeared to be the ones mobilised most often. The organisational components related to the employer company and to the user company were not identified systematically. The collective components were mobilised particularly in situations in which organisational components were absent. The multiplication of cases, the comparison with other subcontracting contexts should allow to pursue the identification of the components of supervisors’ operational leeway in order to progress in the prevention of MSDs for supervised operators.


  • situational operational leeway
  • musculoskeletal disorders
  • supervisor
  • subcontracting
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