New research has investigated what motivates an employee to work safer.

Curtin University’s Professor Mark Griffin says safety in the workplace is more than simply following the rules, but organisations often respond to risks with more rules.

“Employers need to not only ensure that their employees are compliant with the safety rules and procedures in place, but instead take initiative and act proactively when faced with challenging situations that may put other colleagues at risk,” Professor Griffin said.

“Our research showed that employees who were compliant with the safety rules in an organisation, but did not take initiative, were less likely to be effective when it came to dealing with risks and hazards in the workplace.”

Fellow researcher Professor Sharon Parker says employees play a critical role in stemming work-related accidents and injuries.

“Most employees have the skills, expertise and local knowledge to prevent problems and accidents in the workplace, but we wanted to understand why only some will go the extra step to initiate better overall safety,” Professor Parker said.

“Our research also showed that employees who took ownership of situations, had strong capabilities and a future-focused outlook were more likely to make changes that improved workplace safety when they faced a potential difficulty or stressful event.”

The full study is accessible here.