Although some people may believe that severely dangerous jobs have the greatest likelihood of workplace accidents, a recent study found that accidents are more likely to occur in moderately unsafe work settings.
"In highly dangerous environments, individuals engage in a high degree of safety behaviours, which offsets the chance of an accident," said Dr. James Beck, lead author and a professor of psychology. "On the other hand, in moderately dangerous environments, people usually engage in some safety behaviours, yet most people do not engage in enough safety behaviours to avoid accidents."
Safety behaviours are often viewed as cumbersome and inefficient, which can mean workers do not practice these behaviours consistently.
According to Beck, under moderately dangerous conditions, people tend to underestimate the degree of safety behaviour that is needed. As a result, they tend to respond to danger in a more-or-less proportional manner so that moderately dangerous situations are met with a moderate degree of safety behaviour. However, the researchers found this response insufficient as "minimizing accidents requires a very sharp increase in safety behaviours, even in response to a small increase in danger."
Four studies were carried out by the writers. Historical occupational injury data were utilised in two of the research to show that moderately risky conditions were connected with the most accidents. The other two investigations were tests in which people completed work simulations in which they understood the amount of danger and how to deal with it safely.
The experiments demonstrated that individuals under-allocate time and effort to work safely within moderately dangerous environments despite knowing about the dangers.
"It appears that the level of safety behaviours needed to offset moderate dangers is simply not very obvious or intuitive," Beck said.The findings provide insights into how workplace safety training programs may be designed to emphasize moderately hazardous work environments to help individuals avoid accidents. (ANI)