Risk Perception Key to Workplace Safety and Health

A recent study of 1,334 workers from 20 mine sites found that miners who avoid risk were less likely to experience near-miss incidents, according to a paper published in the Journal of Loss Prevention in the Process Industries. Why is it important to know about near-miss incidents? Previous NIOSH research showed that the likelihood of future injury may increase with the number of near misses. A near miss, otherwise known as a “close call,” is an occurrence that could have caused harm but did not. In high-risk occupations, near-miss incidents must be reported. Risk management, including near-miss reporting, serves as an integral part of workplace safety and health, particularly in hazardous industries such as mining and chemical processing. Near-miss reports do not necessarily reveal the role that workers' attitudes play in risk-related behavior. To understand this relationship, NIOSH researchers recently surveyed mine workers to compare their attitudes towards risks and their feelings of personal control over events—defined as “locus of control”—with their individual likelihood of risk avoidance. Researchers found a strong relationship between near misses and attitudes toward risk and locus of control.

Based on published studies, researchers developed a survey of specific attitudes toward safety and health. The survey included statements such as whether or not workers put safety first and prefer to avoid risks, or whether they consider themselves regular risk-takers. Respondents were asked to rate these statements from 1 to 6 on the commonly used Likert scale. In addition, respondents reported their frequency of experiencing near miss incidents in the preceding 6 months, and the researchers confirmed near misses with mining company reports. Most respondents were males and ranged in age from 18 to 54. The in-person surveys occurred between April 2015 and April 2017.

Source : Haas, E.J. , Lorio, P.L. (2019). Journal of Loss Prevention in the Process Industries, 59, 91-99. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jlp.2019.03.005

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