Growth of the world population and the globalization of trade are the origins of the fourth industrial revolution, called “Industry 4.0”. What engineers call systems are becoming more and more complex as businesses strive to stay competitive and meet ever-changing demand. While automation and information digitization and transmission technologies are increasingly becoming major assets in modern industries, the changes they bring are having an impact on the management of occupational health and safety.
The aim of this article is to provide an overview of the progress achieved in the understanding of complex systems and to test some of the published theory by comparing it to a case study. The major scientific databases were searched to retrieve the literature on complexity, and a large company in the steel products business was queried to determine how its complexity as perceived by its managerial staff compares to the theory of complex systems.
Our main conclusion is that, based on the data gathered in the case study, the perception that the managerial staff has of the company corresponds closely to the current definition of complex systems as proposed by researchers. However, it remains to be determined whether this correspondence holds over the range of business sizes.