Pressure to produce = pressure to reduce accident reporting?

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Accident Analysis and Prevention


Each year, more than 4 million U.S. workers are injured on the job - several thousand die (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2008). Despite these staggering numbers, research suggests that they are gross underestimates of the true volume of workplace related illnesses and injuries due to accident under-reporting. Although accident under-reporting has been well-documented, less is known regarding why this occurs. The current study suggests that under-reporting may in part be due to high levels of perceived production pressure. Specifically, this study tested the hypotheses that production pressure would be related to more experienced accidents overall and more negative attitudes toward reporting accidents. Further, we expected that production pressure would exacerbate the under-reporting of accidents. Survey data were collected from a sample of 212 copper mining workers located in the southwestern United States. The survey measured employee perceptions regarding production pressure, attitudes toward reporting accidents, perceived consequences of reporting accidents, and actual reporting behaviors (e.g., types and numbers of accidents experienced vs. reported). As predicted, the average number of experienced accidents per employee was significantly higher (M = 2.84) than the number of reported accidents (M =.49). In addition, production pressure was related to more negative reporting attitudes. Individuals who had positive reporting attitudes were injured less frequently; however, when an incident occurred, they were more likely to report it. Finally, higher levels of production pressure were related to greater accident under-reporting. Additionally, employees who perceived high levels of production pressure not only experienced more accidents overall, they also reported fewer of them to the organization. Implications for occupational safety initiatives - particularly in the current economic climate - are discussed, as are methodological challenges of conducting research in this area. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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