Safety is mostly concerned with the control of accidents (control includes prevention). The accidents are due to unsafe conditions or unsafe actions or their combination.

As per H.W. Heinrich’s theory, the majority (88%) of the accidents are due to the unsafe actions of the workers. In modern plants, where the working conditions are good and well maintained, some accidents take place due to unsafe action … human behavior of the workers.

Therefore it is an important task to study this unsafe action or human behavior, to find out its causes, effects and remedial measures and to remove them. It is important to study first the human-machine and its behavior before studying any machine made by him.

Psychology and psychologist do this task. This shows the need for psychological study in the field of safety also.

At present knowingly or unknowingly psychological principles are applied in accident control theories, but well the study of psychology or the human mind brings perfection in them.

All Managers, safety officers, engineers, supervisors, and inspectors should have good knowledge of psychology to understand and rectify human behavior, which is one of the causes of hazard occurrence and accidents. The need for applied psychology for safety in the industry should be properly recognized.

Psychological safety measures put stress on information, instruction, training, and supervision for safe performance, which is also a statutory need (Sec. 7A) under our Factories Act, 1948.


Human Resource (Psychology) Department of the industry should organize safety-training programs for all types of workers.


Psychology is a study of human behavior and includes all behavioral aspects…

  • Mind
  • Body intelligence
  • Attitude
  • Aptitude
  • Morale
  • Performance
  • Proficiency
  • Skill
  • Learning
  • Training
  • Motivation
  • Aspiration
  • Inspiration
  • Satisfaction
  • Liking-disliking
  • Action-inaction
  • Fatigue
  • Boredom
  • Absent-mindedness
  • Accident-proneness
  • Effect of the working environment
  • Labor policy
  • Management
  • Age and sex
  • Individual differences
  • Conflicts
  • Personality and interest
  • Human error and accidents
  • Worry
  • Unrest
  • Synchronization of mental and muscular faculties
  • Mental and physical reactions
  • Sense of duty or responsibility
  • Motive or lack of motive
  • Humanitarian impulses
  • Disposition, etc.

Psychology is defined as the study of human (also animal) behavior with the aid of scientific methodology. It is an art and science of mind.


It collects facts of human behavior by using scientific methods … experiment, observation, time and motion study, working attitude, mindset attitude, workplace study, incident case study, etc.

Psychology is a branch of philosophy and is established as an independent branch. Like other sciences, it also aims to reduce all phenomena (mostly human) to cause and effect.

It accepts causation in behavior as a fact. It demands analysis of events, situation and past experiences to correct the behavior.

It has two aspects, scientific and applied. In its scientific aspect, it considers research and discovery of information related to human behavior. When such information is applied to practical problems of human life, it is said an applied or professional aspect of psychology.

Branches of psychology

 Branch Known As Area of Study
1 Engineering psychology or Human factor psychology or Human EngineeringHuman behavior as a function of self or personal factors like physical traits, mental traits, the ability to work, attitude, aptitude,  morale, frustration, etc. Human behavior as a function of a work situation or environmental factors like temperature, ventilation, light, noise, vibration, ergonomics, job situation, fencing, guarding, house-keeping, training, etc.
2Clinical or counseling psychologyAbnormal aspects of behavior
3.Educational PsychologyProcess of learning and education
4. Development psychologyDevelopment in behavior with growing age
5.Social psychologyInfluences of society (other people or groups) on an individual’s behavior.
6. Experimental psychologyAn experimental method to study behaviors and to discover principles that govern behavior.
7.Personality PsychologyHuman personality
8.Industrial psychology Or Applied psychologyApplication of principles of psychology in trade, business, and industry.


Industrial psychology is concerned with the study of human behavior in those aspects of life that are related to the production/manufacturing, distribution, and use of the goods and services of our peoples.

Application of the psychology to trade, business or industrial field is called industrial psychology.

CLICK HERE FOR πŸ‘‰ Heinrich’s Theory of Accident

Sub – branches and Areas of Industrial Psychology

  Sub-Branch Area of Application
1Personal psychologySelection, training, and supervision of people in industrial / business setting. It also studies communication.
2Managerial psychologyProblems of management in the industry.
3Engineering psychology Or Human Engineering Or Human factor Engineering or ErgonomicsEffect of working condition, situation or environment and includes factors like overcrowding, light, ventilation, temperature, sitting arrangement, design of the machine, tools, controls, gauges, switches, equipment, work method, job situation so as to be safe and convenient to the workers.
4Consumer psychologyRelationship between manufacturer and consumers of their products or services.
5Organizational psychologyTotal (overall) functioning of an organization, factory, office, management, etc. including topics like motivation, leadership, communication patterns, workgroup by dynamics, organizational structure, process, etc.

Subjects of Industrial Psychology:

Ordway Teed says, “Every major management problem is in part psychological.”

Herbert Moore -describes in his book six industrial problems for psychologists to solve:

  • Employing the worker.
  • Educating and training the worker.
  • Caring for the health and safety of the worker.
  • Helping to provide for the economic security of the worker.
  • Establishing a workable employer-employee relationship and
  • Cooperating with the advertising and sales forces.

For proper selection of the right manpower for the right job, various tests are suggested such as service commission’s tests, intelligence tests, general ability tests, special ability tests (mechanical and electrical), personality tests, aptitude and attitude tests, achievement tests, etc. Various incentives are also suggested to motivate workers.


Main Subjects of Industrial Psychology:

Appraising and training to the worker, accident-proneness, causes and prevention of accidents, employee fatigue and boredom, the problem employee, motivation the psychological factors in labor turnover, consumer contracts, and selling -are the main subjects of industrial psychology.


Safety psychology is a part of industrial psychology and can be explained as under:

Meaning and Aim of safety psychology:

Safety psychology is a study of human factors and behavior contributing to the causation of hazard, accident or unsafe environment or situation and the application of remedial measures to prevent and control them by improving human behavior for safe job performance and relations with others to maintain the safety.

Thus safety psychology studies a person why he commits accidents, under what circumstances and what are other contributing factors affecting his behavior or making him accident-prone and how such behavior can be corrected to rectify his unsafe actions to achieve the goal of overall safety which includes the techniques of accident prevention.

CLICK HERE FOR πŸ‘‰ Energy Release Theory of Accident

Tile human being is at the center of such study and therefore it is called human engineering. The main concept of safety as human engineering is its psychological part.

It aims at the rectification of human errors, human factors and unsafe actions as the causes of accidents or unsafe environments. H.W. Heinrich says in his old book on Industrial Accident Prevention that psychology lies at the root of the sequence of accident causes. For details see the next chapter.

Present Psychological Safety Problems: 

The field of safety psychology is applicable to employers and employees. Accidents are the results of the faults of the employer or employee.

The main responsibility to provide and maintain safe working conditions, safe environment and protective equipment lies upon the employer, however, the practical field of effort for prevention through psychology and use of protective equipment is applied largely to the employees.

The employees being more in number render more chances of human faults/mistakes. Therefore it is their great, individual and group or collective responsibility to minimize their human faults to prevent accidents and to maintain safety.

Present psychological safety problems can be divided into two parts: The employer’s problems and Employee’ problems. Ultimately they create problems for society and the nation also.

CLICK HERE FOR πŸ‘‰ Petersen’s Accident – Incident Causation Theory

Employer’s Problems:

Employers’ expectations or fear from the employees not only in the form of production targets but, in the form of attitudes, loyalties and cooperative efforts are as important to the psychologist as the employers want to know about the resources, desires, motivation, and capacities of their employees.

Workers’ disobedience, indiscipline, sabotage, mischief, non-using of safety equipment or appliances or damaging them, not following the safe close down of the plant for the purpose of safety, and not even allowing others to carry out such safety duty and practicing strike or go slow to the extent of endangering safety of self, others and surrounding public are the present psychological problems creating worries for employers.

They expect help from the Government which ought to be given, but, it must be noted that the only effective key to correct or improve human behavior lies in die self-discipline or self-efforts and outsiders can contribute little if the wrongdoer is firmly determined not to improve himself. The Government may help in die field of law and order but it can hardly improve human behavior, which needs special efforts.

CLICK HERE FOR πŸ‘‰ Hepburns’s Theory

There are some statutory provisions in the Factories Act 1948 to punish workers for their offenses regarding safety, but the Governments are reluctant to operate them against the workers.

Even if they are operated, no worker will give evidence against a worker and another witness if they come forward, they may be attacked by the mob-mentality.

Thus in the atmosphere of deliberate indiscipline or mischief in the field of safety, really, it is a challenging problem for psychologists to solve in the interest of safety. Trade unions should also contribute to solving this problem.

The workers must understand and believe that the safety of them and others lie in their hands. Safety is a subject of co-operation and construction and not destruction.

If safety is not maintained, nobody will be happy and they themselves may lose their limbs or lives. Compensation cannot bring life back. The safety of anybody’s life is of prime importance.

No human behavior is morally or legally permitted to endanger or take away anybody’s life or to cause damage to plant, machinery, production or environment, as they all ultimately result in the national loss.

Let us always maintain safety and solve our problems in a safe atmosphere only. Let us perform this safety-duty first, enjoy the right and let others also should enjoy their rights.

This is the only good motivating force to mold human behavior to maintain safety. Employers’ regular efforts to give such mandatory training to their employees can be useful.

CLICK HERE FOR πŸ‘‰ Frank Bird’s Domino Theory

Apart from the employer’s duty towards workers, new legislation during the last ten years has imposed duty towards the public also. Under the Factories Act, Environment (Protection) Act, Public Liability insurance Act, and Chemical Accidents (EPPR) Rules die general public is to be informed about the hazards; controls and their role in an emergency.

Any citizen or member of a Crisis Group can demand such information from employers. This situation has created worries for the employers and they seem to be reluctant in providing such information to the public. In case of a major accident affecting the public, the Police and other authorities may prosecute them. A solution to this problem is the willing compliance of law only.

Employee’s Problems:

Employees’ expectations from the employer not only in the form of pay but in the form of security, the opportunity for advancement and protection, is as important to the psychologist as what they want for themselves in the form of self-expression, recognition, and acceptable working conditions and environment.

It is the fact with many small and medium-scale factories that workers’ expectation, as stated above, is rarely fulfilled. The exploitation of poor, uneducated, unorganized and mostly contract workers are still continued and they have to work long working hours under bad and unsafe working conditions and environment.

Most of the well educated and experienced workers do not get satisfactory wages and are de-motivated. A trade union may change their attitudes. Even statutory requirements for health, safety, and welfare are not provided for.


They have no recognition, self-expression, protection, security or opportunity. They work only because of their livelihood, economic need or helplessness.

The need and work of a Safety Officer are still not recognized wholeheartedly by the majority of the employers. This situation discourages and de-motivates the Safety Officers. Due importance must be given to all safety employees and their work.

In spite of factory and safety legislation and inspectorate, the working conditions for workers are found generally not good.

With few exceptions in some good factories, most of the places need improvement for a safe environment. The machines are not guarded, floor openings not covered, safe means of access not provided, safety devices neither provided nor working, occupational diseases go undetected and unreported, dusting, fuming, gassing and pollution constantly pollute the atmosphere, pressure vessels, lifting machines and other dangerous machines and processes are not fully safe and they cause many accidents.

The same is the case with many chemical vessels, their fitting and maintenance. Workers also do not complain much, as they see such situations since long, as regular affairs, routine matters or have less hope for improvement.

CLICK HERE FOR πŸ‘‰ Basic terms in accident prevention

Who is to blame for this? After all, human beings are involved and they blame each other. Employers say they provided the safety arrangements but the workers do not maintain them.

Some say they have no money to invest in costly safety equipment and the Government should give subsidy to them. Workers say the opposite, that the safety devices are not provided or not working for long and nobody hears their complaints.

Factory inspectors prosecute for many violations but mostly for other than safety. Only in case of accidents or special cases they prosecute for safety. Their finding is such that many employers do not provide or maintain safety devices for many reasons, and strict and repeated follow-up is not possible due to a shortage of staff, time and manifold work. People blame the inspectors also.

This is the real picture -posing psychological problems on many fronts. The nature or extent of problems may vary with the place and person, but the general picture remains the same.

Blaming each other will not solve the actual problem. All are right or wrong to some extent. It is doubtlessly, the primary duty of all employers to provide and maintain the safety requirements. There should be no defense for this.

CLICK HERE FOR πŸ‘‰ Safety Sampling

Safety expenditure must be planned from the beginning and should be provided every year. Safety committees should be formed with the inclusion of workers representatives to review safety conditions.

The unsafe conditions and actions must be removed by joint efforts. The workers, supervisors and all workpeople should strive for safety. Preventive-and corrective maintenance should be carried out regularly. Such should be the attitudes.

The Factory Inspectorate should be strict for safety compliance and should give all guidance for safety knowledge. Trade unions should also contribute much including safety awareness and training. The human behavior for safety must be motivated and improved.



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