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Personality and attitudes towards safety as predictors of individual's safety behaviour

Ethics Approval Number: 2011/070

Researcher: Capella So

Individual differences in the engagement of unsafe behaviours have been studied from different perspectives including personality (Christian et al. 2009) and social-cognitive (Ford & Tetrick, 2011) psychologies. Both perspectives have demonstrated that the human characteristics including personality traits and attitudinal variables are the determinants of safety behaviours. In the organisational context, these two perspectives of psychology have usually been studied separately while in this study, personality and social-cognitive variables were both taken into consideration as possible sources of variations in the engagement of unsafe behaviours.

The results of the current study indicate the importance of inspecting the indirect effect of conscientiousness on unsafe behaviours through affecting safety attitudes toward intention to comply. More specifically, low conscientiousness individuals tend to possess negative attitudes towards complying with safety practices. Hence, low conscientiousness individuals are more likely to perform unsafely.

Based on the supported mediation relationship, the organisation is encouraged to design and apply different safety strategies that are specifically tailored to particular personality characteristics (high conscientiousness vs. low conscientiousness) of employees. For example, safety interventions should target maintaining positive safety attitudes of high conscientiousness individuals and changing negative safety attitudes of low conscientiousness individuals. By designing safety programs that consider both personality characteristics and safety attitudes may contribute to changing the engagement of unsafe behaviours more effectively. These considerations may help to reduce the occurrence of workplace accidents and injuries. In turn, it may enhance both the tangible and intangible organisational benefits such as reducing the workers compensation cost and increasing competitive in the retention of current employee as well as the recruitment of high standard potential employees.