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Improving occupational safety : using a trusted information source to communicate about risk

Conchie, S. and Burns, C. (2009) Improving occupational safety : using a trusted information source to communicate about risk. Journal of Risk Research, 12 (1). pp. 13-25. ISSN 1366-9877

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Abstract

We examine the importance of employee trust in an information source for occupational safety within the construction industry. We sought to identify if: (1) trust in an information source was risk independent; (2) workers trusted one information source significantly more than others; (3) there was a significant relationship between trust and risk behaviour, specifically, if workers' self-reported intention to change their risk-related behaviour was related to their trust in an information source. These issues were addressed using data from 131 UK construction workers drawn from a single industrial site. Results showed that workers' trust in an information source was relatively stable and did not significantly differ between risks. Trust in information from the project manager, safety manager, UK HSE and workmates was based on the source's accuracy, while trust in information from supervisors was based on their demonstrations of care. Of the five sources, the UK HSE and safety manager emerged as the most trusted sources and the most influential in shaping workers' risk-related behavioural intentions. These results have implications for safety campaigns because they suggest that while workers have trust in the source that develops these campaigns (UK HSE), they have relatively less trust in those that deliver them (project managers and supervisors). This may impact on the effectiveness of these campaigns in shaping workers' risk behaviours.