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J Safety Res. 2008;39(6):589-98. doi: 10.1016/j.jsr.2008.10.005. Epub 2008 Nov 18.

When workplace safety depends on behavior change: topics for behavioral safety research.

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Health Effects Laboratory Division, National Institute for Occupation Safety and Health, Morgantown, WV, USA.



Comprehensive interventions that address public-health concerns invariably include behavior-change strategies. In occupational safety and health, behavioral safety is an approach designed to improve safety performance directly through peer observations of safe behaviors, goal setting, performance feedback, and celebrations or incentives for reaching safety goals. Although the basic components of behavioral safety processes have been studied and widely documented, the current safety literature reveals several gaps in knowledge. These gaps are associated mostly with wide practice variations among the common process elements and uncertainty about the influence of organizational and other external factors.


A major objective of this paper was to highlight not only key topic areas that warrant further research, but also to propose a list of research questions that are tied to uncertainties about various intervention practices. If only a portion of these topic areas and research questions are addressed through systematic reviews, field interventions, surveys, and laboratory-based studies, then the knowledge gained will significantly improve the delivery and effectiveness of behavioral safety interventions and thus their impact on worker health and safety.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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