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Parents, supervisors and co-workers among greatest interpersonal influences in reducing young worker injuries

Young workers

A new national study examined for the first time who influences the safety behavior of young workers. The researchers looked at six sources of influence; parents, siblings, teachers, friends, supervisors and co-workers to see how they related to the workers’ risk-taking behavior and frequency of minor work injuries. The study, “Injunctive safety norms, young worker risk-taking behaviors, and workplace injuries” was published in the journal Accident Analysis & Prevention.

The researchers surveyed 45000 participants prior to taking one of six online occupational safety test.  The survey was relatively short but included key measures for injunctive safety measures, work-related risk taking behaviour and workplace injuries. Just over 45,000 individuals began the user survey prior to taking the test. From this group, 11,986 indicated they were currently employed and between the age of 15 and 24 years inclusive. Participants aged 16, 17, 18, and 19 comprised 88.3% of the sample. Through a detailed analytical process utilizing descriptive statistics, their findings show that among the six sources of influence, parents, supervisors and co-workers had the largest positive influence.

  1. Parents’ injunctive norms may make a difference in terms of reducing young workers’ risk-taking behaviors.
  2. Findings support the importance of supervisors’ injunctive safety norms and influence on young workers, meaning that well-informed health and safety supervision and leadership impacts safety behaviours.
  3. Co-workers influence safety through explicit encouragement.

To decrease the incidence of injuries amongst young workers it is important to understand the sources of injunctive safety norms that have the largest impact on this vulnerable group of workers. The findings of this study suggest that, young workers who are regularly exposed to supervisors’, co-workers’, and parents’ injunctive safety norms reported fewer work injuries via less frequent work-related risk-taking behaviours.

Reference: Pek, S., Turner, N., Tucker, S., Kelloway, E. K., & Morrish, J. (2017). Injunctive safety norms, young worker risk-taking behaviors, and workplace injuries. Accident Analysis & Prevention, 106, 202-210. doi:10.1016/j.aap.2017.06.007