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Does Employee Personality Affect Workplace Safety?

Are employee personality and workplace safety really related in any way?

They definitely are – and it’s crucial for organizations to understand the correlation between these variables.

While workplace safety is a major concern of companies and everybody wants to achieve a risk and hazard-free environment, some accidents are unavoidable. However, it doesn’t mean you can’t do anything to minimize the risk.

Successful organizations focus on educating and training their employees to achieve a strong safety culture. But what if some employees have a natural inclination to engage in unsafe practices at work?

If that’s the case, you’d want to hire safer people in the first place, right?

Employee Personality and Workplace Safety

Researchers conducted a meta-analysis to study the impact of employee personality on workplace safety. After studying the relationship between workplace safety and the five personality traits, they concluded that people who scored high on the ‘extroversion’ and ‘neuroticism’ scales were more likely to engage in unsafe behaviors.

It was suggested that extroverts probably don’t mind compromising safety while trying to achieve a higher status while neurotic people tend to get distracted because of anxiety and stress. They may also make irrational and impulsive choices when angry, which can lead to a hazard.

On the other hand, people who are more conscientious and agreeable generally want to get along with the team and follow the rules. This ultimately makes them promote a safe and productive workplace environment.

Another theory that makes sense suggests that every individual has a locus of control ranging from internal to external. The external locus promotes a mindset of ‘Things happen and we can’t really do anything to prevent them’. While this certainly does hold true for some situations, it may hardwire people to believe that safety hazards can’t be prevented in the workplace.

Research also suggests that locus of control may influence employees’ belief regarding injury prevention and workplace safety.


The relationship between employee personality and workplace safety calls for organizations to conduct an employee risk assessment before hiring new staff.

Thankfully, there are risk assessment tools that allow you to measure the risk tolerance level of your employees and their tendency to engage in risky behaviors at the workplace.

Typically, you should look for employees who are resistant and who score low on the scales of anxiousness, irritability, impulsiveness, distractibility, and thrill-seeking. When you can spot people who are at high-risk for these personality traits, you’ll be able to put together a team that works responsibly to promote a strong safety culture with minimized workplace incidents. It’ll also help you

mitigate the potential risks your employees may pose to themselves, their co-workers, and the organization. You can also utilize the data to design and execute appropriate training sessions for your employees.

Interested in conducting an employee risk assessment for building a safer and more efficient working environment?

The Assessment Company® can do it for you using the innovative Safety Quotient™ assessment tool. This is your chance to reduce workplace incidents and foster a strong safety culture in your organization!

Call 800-434-2630 and speak with an Assessment Specialist today!

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