Self-protective measures against workplace hazards

A. Cohen, M. J. Smith, W. K. Anger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Techniques are examined for influencing individual worker behaviors, actions, and attitudes in ways that could offer greater self-protection against workplace hazards. Training and reinforcement are first described as directive-type means for targeting and strengthening specific worker actions of this nature. Critical considerations here are use of training and reinforcement approaches that stress the learning of safe or healthful behaviors as opposed to the unlearning of unsafe or harmful acts, conditions of practice that insure the transfer of these learned behaviors to the real situation, setting performance goals for these actions with frequent feedback to mark progress, and establishing meaningful rewards with an adequate reinforcement schedule and delivery system. Presented next are nondirective approaches which are designed to create attitude change, a state of heightened awareness, or other predispositions favorable to self-protective actions. Emphasis here is given to communication, incentives, and management style factors. The foreman or other credible sources as 'change agents' using face-to-face, two-way forms of communication with suitably arousing messages are seen as crucial elements. Company incentives aimed at enlivening general interest in job health and safety are discussed. Increased self-protection is mentioned as a possible by-product of top management's commitment and lead in job health and safety matters accompanied by close interactions with workers. Supportive evidence from field studies and the technical literature on directive and nondirective techniques is reported, and recommendations are made based on their respective merits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-131
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Safety Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1979
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality


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