The Psychology of Safety

The Psychology of Safety

Read more on the Psychology of Safety and Risk by Dr Robert Long and George Robotham

Great article by David Carter from his blog Safety Success


It seems that Safety Professionals are perpetually perplexed during incident investigations.  When looking at the events that lead to injury, it is frequently very easy to see the point in time at which the injured employee made a conscious decision that led to the injury.  We often ask ourselves why the employee made what seems like an obvious bad choice.  The answer is often more complicated than what can be captured through cause mapping or incident investigation.  Only a sadist would intentionally cause harm to themselves so why would someone make a decision that could possibly possibly lead to permanent disability? The answer lies in the way that humans make decisions.

It turns out that humans are not very adept at assessing risk at all.  Our perceptions of risk are usually very skewed depending on our experiences.  For example, the average industrial worker would rank the risk of skydiving as much higher than that of elevated work.  This mistake leads employees to take risks in this area leading to almost 20% of all fatal workplace injuries.


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