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The Psychology of Safety

Workplace injuries are costly and often devastating occurrences that all companies must address. All too often, injuries are dealt with after they take place. Truly though, it is much more effective and fruiful to address issues before they occur, with the goal of avoiding injuries altogether.

Accident investigations that occur retroactively seek to determine the cause of incidents so that measures can be taken to mitigate the causative factors in the future. In a new paper by psychological scientist E. Scott Geller, Alumni Distinguished professor at Virginia Tech, he looks at how “causes” may be misleading and how “blaming” might allow us to overlook the true root factors that precipitate injuries. He believes that there is almost never one person to blame when an injury occurs. Companies ultimately need to develop the kind of culture where individual workers are empowered to point out problems, raise concerns about each other’s safety, and actively contribute to the discussion of injury prevention....

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