- OSHA Healthcare Advisor - http://blogs.hcpro.com/osha -

Less stress means fewer accidents in the lab

Are some employees just accident prone? Is there a way to assess personality traits related to the propensity for getting into accidents? If you could identify such traits, could you generalize traits from one setting to another?

Although there is very little data on this subject, there is some. Samantha Dunn, in her book, Not by Accident: Reconstructing a Careless Life [1] (Henry Holt, 2002), suggests that emotional states that lead to distraction can contribute to accidents. Anxiety, stress and depression are at the root of many accidents because they cloud judgments and slow reaction time.

So how does that equate to work in the laboratory? Staffing issues cause more overtime, which can contribute to stress and more on-the-job accidents. Employees with anxiety at home can bring those unresolved issues into the workplace causing accidents due to lack of attention to the work at hand. Those that have a short attention span and are easily distracted are more accident prone.

What can management do? Employees at risk could be provided with training to be more attentive and reduce distractions. Additional social support could be provided, including changes to make a worker’s job less stressful or even a temporary reassignment.