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An I/O Psychology Perspective on Organizational Safety. Tulsa Chapter of the American Society of Safety Engineers Bradley Brummel , PHd Assistant Professor University of Tulsa Wednesday, February 17 th. Personal Background.

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An I/O Psychology Perspective on Organizational Safety

Tulsa Chapter of the American Society of Safety Engineers

Bradley Brummel, PHd

Assistant Professor

University of Tulsa

Wednesday, February 17th

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Personal Background

  • PhD in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2008

  • Research Interests

    • Personality in the Workplace

    • Job Attitudes

    • Training and Development

  • Teaching

    • Assessment of Individual Differences

    • Training and Development

    • Job Attitudes

    • Social Psychology

    • Survey of Industrial Psychology

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Work History

  • Subway Sandwich Artist

    • Often single employees

    • Security camera rarely on

  • ODL Factory

    • Building sidelights

    • Exhaust fan optional?

  • Post Frame Construction

    • Agricultural construction

    • Drugs in the workplace

    • Lack of safety enforcement

    • New tasks/unexpected issues

  • Universities of Illinois and Tulsa

    • Not much serious to talk about

    • Disgruntled Students?

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Occupational Health Psychology

  • “OHP concerns the application of psychology to improving the quality of work life, and to protecting and promoting the safety, health and well-being of workers”– NIOSH

  • The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) under CDC

  • Interdisciplinary

    • Most fields of psychology.

    • Engineering, sociology, epidemiology, etc.

  • Physical Hazards

    • Ergonomics

    • Occupational safety

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Ergonomics / Human Factors

  • “The application of scientific information concerning humans to the design of objects, systems and environments for human use.” – The Ergonomics Society

  • Focuses on preventing injury and improving performance through design:

    • Tools & equipment

    • Workstations, displays (Human Factors more than I/O)

    • Entire systems – e.g., how do we report accidents?

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Occupational Safety

  • Preventing injuries and exposure to hazards.

  • How do we get people to behave safely?

    • Safety motivation

    • Safety performance

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Safety Culture/Climate

  • Addressing unsafe behavior at the employee level only gets us so far.

    • “Blame game”

    • Organizational Factors

  • Safety culture (Wiegmann et al., 2003):

    • “the enduring value and priority placed on worker and public safety by everyone in every group at every level of an organization.”

  • Safety climate (Zohar, 1980) :

    • “a particular type of organizational climate, which reflects employees’ perceptions about the relative importance of safe conduct in their occupational behavior.”

  • Sometimes used interchangeably – difference in focus and measurement

    • Safety culture = enduring, looking at org as a whole.

    • Safety climate = more transitory, focused on employee perceptions.

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Reason’s Swiss Cheese Model







Unsafe Acts



Latent Conditions

Latent Conditions




Adapted from Reason, 1990

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Good Safety Climate

  • Organizational Commitment to Safety

    • Top-level policies prioritize safety.

  • Supervisory Involvement

    • Immediate supervisors care about & reward safety.

  • Formal Safety System

    • It is easy and safe to report accidents, hazards, near misses, etc.; action is taken when something is reported; safety personnel are taken seriously.

  • Informal Safety System

    • Safety is rewarded; unsafe behavior is not rewarded; employees are empowered; peer culture promotes safety.

  • Is that all is takes?

    • Probably, but this stuff is not easy.

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Psychological Safety Issues

  • Attention and Alarm Systems

    • Dangers of complacency on rare events

  • Goal Systems

    • “263 days since our last serious accident”

    • Don’t screw it up

  • Individual Differences

    • Intelligence

    • Impulsivity

    • Conscientiousness

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