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The Science Behind Personal Safety in the Workplace

July 3, 2019

science behind personal safety in the workplace

I have a scenario for you: you're overseeing an important new safety initiative which includes meetings and training sessions with a team of employees on various topics. The team includes some new employees and a critical part of the roll-out is being led by a supervisor you are not too familiar with. What if you learned the following information ahead of time, through reliable and objective data?

  • A subset of these employees are significantly more risk tolerant than the average employee in your industry.

  • Some other employees in this group tend to be strict rule followers, but…they also have below-average attention to detail.

  • The supervisor mentioned above is personable and has a ton of technical experience but tends to get easily overwhelmed and frustrated and avoids conflict like the plague.

Would the information above perhaps change how you approach this initiative? Would any of this impact the roll-out in terms of planning, training delivery, or communication? Do you think this information would be valuable to have ahead of time?Lately there has been a lot of attention on neuroscience and how it impacts safety from a psychological standpoint. While it’s true that all human beings are subject to things such as biases, cognitive limitations, or mental states, we rarely hear about the sizable differences in psychological characteristics that exist from person to person. These characteristics, such as personality traits and mental abilities, help define who we are over time and are closely linked to many of the neuroscience factors you’ve read about. They also tell us a lot about a person’s overall safety risk.

Learn more:  Blind Spots: 4 Psychological Factors that Can Get You Injured

Years of published research from the field of Industrial & Organizational Psychology have revealed four critical psychological factors that are highly predictive of a person’s future safety behavior, and the probability of them being injured on the job. We refer to these factors as your SafetyDNA® and it looks a little bit different for everyone, because – surprise – we are not all the same! Everyone has different traits, experiences, strengths, and abilities, so why should we treat everyone as if they’re all the same?

Yet, that is exactly what traditional safety approaches do. We provide everyone with the same training and personal protective equipment (PPE) and we remind them in the same manner about all the safety policies and procedures without really considering the fact that some people will process, learn, or apply these concepts through their own personal SafetyDNA lens.

Because people are in fact different, it should come as no surprise that injuries are not distributed equally. In our years of working with multiple Fortune 2000 companies across industries, we often find that a small subset of employees are associated with the large majority of injuries – many times mirroring the “80/20 Rule” in that about 20% of individuals are involved in nearly 80% of the safety incidents, injuries and adverse events within a facility. Even when we systematically account for on-the-job experience and the risk level of the job, we still see strong connections between SafetyDNA traits and injury involvement, with some individuals having a significantly higher likelihood of being injured.

What does this mean for safety professionals and leaders who are responsible for safety? What exactly do these SafetyDNA “factors” look like, and how can we use them to help improve safety? In my recent webinar, I share the research behind SafetyDNA factors and how companies are using validated assessment tools to not only measure these factors, but use them to enhance safety culture and prevent injuries and fatalities – one person at a time. In this 60-minute webinar, you will:

  • Learn the four psychological traits that are most related to safety behaviors and injuries and how these are measured with validated online assessments.

  • Understand how organizations are using these assessments for safety coaching and feedback, while harnessing the latest neuroscience research to maximize learning and application.

  • Discover useful tools and applications to embed SafetyDNA factors into your everyday work activities and safety management systems to increase sustainability.

  • Gain insights from past case studies and see the positive results that organizations have observed in their safety KPIs using this type of program.

SafetyDNA The Science Behind Personal Safety

Esteban Tristan, Ph.D. Esteban Tristan, Ph.D. is the Director of Safety Solutions at PSI. He manages the development and implementation of all safety solutions and services, which address some of the critical challenges faced by organizations today in workplace safety.