The Influence of Communicating on Safety Measures on Risk-Taking Behavior
ter Mors, E.
Risk-taking behavior is an important contributing human factor to incidents and notoriously difficult to influence. A basic premise of approaches to improving safety by putting in extra levels of protection (e.g. the Swiss cheese model) is that providing information on the number of layers in place does not influence the risk-taking behavior of employees. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that people have a "hard-wired" optimal perceived risk level: we compensate for risk-reducing measures by taking greater risks until the desired level of risk is again reached (risk homeostasis). The research presented in this paper shows that communicating the quantity of protection measures in place has a clear and substantial effect on risk-taking behavior and performance. Although the limitations of this study should be recognized, organizations might reconsider conveying detailed information to their employees on the number of safety measures adopted. Preserving ignorance among employees of the enhanced protection in place creates a stronger "safety buffer" as it reduces risk-taking behavior and improves employees’ efforts to make sure that the presumed "last" layer will hold. The practical implications for organizations on how to communicate effectively on safety measures will be discussed.
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Health & Medicine
Work and Employment
SPE International Conference and Exhibition on Health, Safety, Security, Environment, and Social Responsibility, April 11–13, 2016, Stavanger, Norway