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Risk-averse miners less prone to near misses: study

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Washington — Miners’ attitudes toward risky behavior may influence their susceptibility to near misses, according to a recent study.

Researchers from NIOSH surveyed more than 1,300 miners, a majority of whom were men ages 18 to 54, from 20 mine sites. The researchers solicited the miners’ opinions about safety and health, asking them to rate statements related to their risk-taking habits on a six-point Likert scale. Additionally, respondents were asked to report how frequently they experienced near misses over the past six months, which the researchers confirmed via mining company reports.

Findings show that a one-point increase in risk avoidance was associated with a 34% decrease in near miss probability. For each one-point increase in a miner’s internal locus of control – the tendency to which a miner believes he or she personally influences decisions and outcomes – near misses were 14% less likely to occur.

The National Safety Council defines a near miss as “an unplanned event that did not result in injury, illness or damage – but had the potential to do so.” NIOSH notes that near misses must be reported in high-risk industries. Near miss reporting falls under the category of risk management, which “serves as an integral part of workplace safety and health, particularly in hazardous industries such as mining and chemical processing,” the agency states.

Previous NIOSH research shows that the probability of future injury may rise with the number of near misses.

 

“Assuming that at some point every safety management system will need to be examined and realigned to help prevent incidents on the job, it is important to understand how personality traits can impact workers’ risk-based decisions,” the researchers wrote. “Such work has been done in the mining industry due to its characteristically high risks, and the results can be gleaned to help the process industry realign goals and values with their workforce.”

The study was published online March 19 in the Journal of Loss Prevention in the Process Industries.

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