• Vol 10, No 5 (2019)
  • Industrial Engineering

Linking Basic Human Values, Risk Perception, Risk Behavior and Accident Rates: The Road to Occupational Safety

Iftikar Zahedi Sutalaksana, Siti Zsa Zsa Zakiyah, Ari Widyanti

Corresponding email: widyanti@mail.ti.itb.ac.id


Cite this article as:
Sutalaksana, I.Z., Zakiyah, S.Z.Z., Widyanti, A. 2019. Linking Basic Human Values, Risk Perception, Risk Behavior and Accident Rates: The Road to Occupational Safety. International Journal of Technology. Volume 10(5), pp. 918-929
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Iftikar Zahedi Sutalaksana Department of Industrial Engineering, Institut Teknologi Bandung Labtek 3 Ganesa 10 Bandung 40132 Indonesia
Siti Zsa Zsa Zakiyah Department of Industrial Engineering, Institut Teknologi Bandung Labtek 3 Ganesa 10 Bandung 40132 Indonesia
Ari Widyanti Department of Industrial Engineering, Institut Teknologi Bandung Labtek 3 Ganesa 10 Bandung 40132 Indonesia
Email to Corresponding Author

Abstract
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To improve occupational safety, it is necessary to consider both management and individual approaches. The individual approach includes internal factors such as basic human values, risk perception, risk behavior and experience of accidents; the aim of this study is to observe the link between these. 104 workers from the forging and casting department of an Indonesian military tools manufacturer participated voluntarily in the study. They were asked to complete a set of questionnaires, consisting of a portrait value questionnaire to assess personal basic human values, a risk perception and safety questionnaire to assess risk perception and risk behavior, and a self-reported accident questionnaire. Structural Equation Modelling (SEM) and bivariate correlation were applied to observe the links between basic human values, risk perception, risk behavior and accident rates. The results show that the basic human value that influences risk perception is that of power. Risk perception correlates with risk behavior, and risk behavior correlates with accident rates. The implications of the results are that occupational safety can be achieved through individual approaches based on basic human values and risk perception.

 

Accidents; Basic human value; Risk behavior; Risk perception; SEM

Introduction

Safety issues are given high priority in many industries. Safety is not only related to the absence of accidents and minimization of risk, but can also be seen as an important factor in work quality (Hollnagel, 2004), which will eventually affect the performance of industries as a whole. In fact, all efforts to enhance occupational safety have a common objective to not only minimize accidents, but also to minimize risk. If risk can be minimized, it can be expected that accidents will also be reduced. Therefore, research has been more focused on risk minimization.

Risk can be defined as the possibility of physical, social or financial harm or loss due to a hazard or uncertainty about outcomes (Rohrmann, 2005). McGregor (2006) also states that risk is a person’s probable exposure to loss, harm or damage. Within the two definitions, risk is described in the context of two components: severity (which results from the occurrence of hazard), and the probability of a hazard occurring (Lehman et al., 2009). Therefore, occupational safety efforts are concentrated on reducing both the severity and probability of risk (e.g., Muñoz et al., 2017).

Considering the importance of safety, industries put considerable efforts into improving safety in the workplace. Such efforts fall in two common areas: engineering controls (including design installation, inspection and repair (Khowaja et al., 2016; da Costa et al., 2018)), and written systems (including policies, procedures, rules and audit programs (Widyanti et al., 2018)). Considering the importance of safety, industries put considerable efforts into improving safety in the workplace. However, accidents still happen in industry, implying the need for understanding of more than the engineering aspects and written systems (Mearns et al., 2003; Laurence, 2005; Liu et al., 2015).

To reduce both the severity and probability of risk, as described earlier, different approaches to the engineering aspect and written system are gaining more attention. The most discussed approach in this case is the behavioral approach (Siregar et al., 2015; Widyanti and Talha, 2017; Zuraida et al., 2017; Widyanti and Sutanto, 2017; Widyanti et al., 2018). Behavior related to risk is known as risk behavior. Rundmo et al. (2011) define it as the extent to which employees ignore safety regulations in order to get a job done or break rules or procedures to complete a job quickly. In some research, the risk behavior approach in relation to safety (also known as behavior-based safety) has been proven to be successful when implemented in the context of risk management and injury prevention (see for example Geller, 2005).

Improving risk behavior is greatly influenced by the lens through which individuals view the risk objective or risk perception (Oppong, 2015). Risk perception can be defined as a person’s judgment (including their opinions and beliefs) of the risk associated with a hazard, and as awareness of hazards and the probability of incurring harm (Slovic, 2010). Risk perception falls into the category of subjective risk (i.e., perceived risk), but it must be underlined that risk itself (i.e., objective risk) exists whether people are aware of it or not, and regardless of whether they are concerned about it. Thus, risk perception is not free from bias, and biased risk perception can cause misjudgements of objective risk, which may affect risk behavior.

Risk perception research has gained more attention as part of risk and safety management. Theories on risk perception and the implications for accident prevention have been developed, for example the risk preference theory and risk homeostasis theory (Oppong, 2015). Risk preference theory states that people have a natural predisposition towards risk that is determined by their personality (Gallagher, 2005), gender, age and cultural settings (Rohrmann, 2005; Nordenstedt & Ivanisevic, 2010), and their basic human values and beliefs (Rundmo et al. 2011). On the other hand, homeostasis theory states that humans have a bearable level of comfortable risk and can adjust their behavior according to this bearable level. If risk is perceived as being greater than the bearable level, they will adjust their behavior to lower the risk, and vice versa. Based on the two theories, it can be underlined that risk perception plays an important role in accident prevention. Furthermore, Rundmo et al. (2011) propose three possible approaches to the relation between risk behavior and accidents, namely that accidents may result in risk perception; risk perception may cause accidents; and risk perception and accidents are both endogenous variables which are independent of each other.

Some research has hypothesized that the perception of occupational risk factors will affect safety behavior (e.g., Rundmo et al. 2011). In addition, Nordenstedt & Ivanisevic (2010) state that having better knowledge of risk perception can improve the quality of decision making in safety and lower the impact such decisions. Furthermore, other research has investigated the influence of risk perception on safety behavior (Brewer et al. 2004; Arezes & Miguel, 2008; Lund & Rundmo, 2009), with mixed results.

Risk perception is influenced by several factors. Recent research has underlined the importance of considering basic human values in risk perception. Schwartz et al. (2012) define basic human values as trans-situational goals, which vary in importance, and serve as guiding principles in the lives of individuals or groups. In addition, many researchers have proposed that basic human values function as standards that guide thought and action (Rohan, 2000; Feather, 2002).Considering the importance of the constructs discussed above (i.e., basic human values, risk perception and risk behavior) in occupational safety, only partial and limited studies have been conducted to observe the relation between these, in particular the relation between the fundamental construct (i.e., basic human values) and the others. Study of basic human values and their relation with accidents is crucial as part of the effort to reduce occupational accidents, since, as stated previously, basic human values will guide thought (as well as risk perception in this case) and actions. Risk perception and actions in the workplace will influence safety behavior and accidents. It would appear that only Nordenstedt and Ivanisevic (2010) have observed the relation between basic human values and risk perception in disaster management. Brewer et al. (2004) and Reniers et al. (2016) found a relation between risk perception and risk behavior in the healthcare system, however only limited studies have been conducted in the industrial setting. One example is the work of Rundmo et al. (2011), who studied risk perceptions and occupational accidents in the oil industry and gave a causal description of the relationship between the two variables.

The purpose of this study is to observe the relation between personal basic human values, risk perception, risk behavior, and experience of accidents. It is hypothesized that basic human values play a role in risk perception. Risk perception will influence risk behavior, which will subsequently influence the experience of accidents. Figure 1 shows the proposed model for the relation between basic human values, risk perception, risk behavior, and experience of accidents.  A clear picture of the overall construct is expected to provide a valuable approach to behavior-based safety as a means of ensuring occupational safety.

Conclusion

The aim of the study was to observe the link between basic human values, risk perception, risk behavior, and accident rates. Partial correlation shows that there are correlations between basic human values (i.e. power) and risk perception, between risk perception and risk behavior, and between risk behavior and accident. Thus, the results of the study show that occupational safety can be obtained through individual approaches based on basic human values and risk perception. 

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