The Psychology of Workplace Safety
The last 100 years have seen a substantial reduction in the number of work-related deaths and injuries, at least in industrialized nations. Nevertheless, fatalities and injuries on the job still occur at unacceptably high rates in both industrial and developing countries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there were 4.9 million reported workplace injuries in the U.S. in 2001. The direct and indirect economic cost of these injuries is staggering.
Despite the importance of the issue, psychologists have not played a major part in studying workplace safety. This is surprising, because the theoretical and methodological traditions of psychology have much to offer in terms of understanding the causes and prevention of occupational injuries.
The psychologists contributing to this volume aim to correct the situation by analyzing both the behaviors that lead to accidental injuries in the workplace and the behaviors that can prevent and manage them. In the process, the contributors summarize what is known and not known about the subject, and raise interesting questions for researchers to answer in the future. While our knowledge is incomplete, it is clear that job-related injuries are related to poor worker-employer collaboration, lack of safety management systems, poor safety culture, deficient knowledge and training, and lack of incentive-based compensation systems.
This volume points out the wide variety of ways in which I/O psychologists can help reduce unintentional workplace injuries. It will be a valuable addition to the library of psychologists and policymakers interested in job safety issues.