THE ROLE OF IMPLICIT ATTITUDES IN SAFETY AND RISK PERCEPTION
Burns, C., McGeorge, P. and Mearns, K., Aberdeen University, United Kingdom
4 Since Lord Cullen's public inquiry into the Piper Alpha disaster (Cullen, 1990), the offshore oil and gas industry has made considerable progress into understanding human and organisational factors in safety. More recently, the industry has become focused on developing leading indicators in safety, with the objective of identifying potential safety problems before they become realised as accidents and incidents. The measurement of 'safety climate' has been a key development in the leading indicator approach. Essentially, safety climate surveys use questionnaires to monitor and measure the workforce's attitudes and perceptions about safety at a particular time and place. These explicit attitudes and perceptions are considered by some researchers to be the outer layer of safety culture (Cox & Flin, 1998). More implicit norms, values and beliefs like trust, blame and fairness are believed to characterise the core of safety culture (Reason, 1990). These aspects are less easy to measure, simply because they are implicit and not directly accessible to the people that hold them. Wilson et al. (2000) have argued that people are capable of holding an implicit and explicit attitude simultaneously and that it is a person's automatic (implicit) attitude that guides behaviour under conditions of stress. This paper investigates how implicit attitudes about trust influence selective perception and situation awareness in the offshore workforce. Lack of trust has far-reaching implications for safety offshore, not just in high tempo operations but also in day to day situations. For example, if an individual does not trust his supervisor, he may be unwilling to give much credence to information that his supervisor shares with him. Results from a computerised implicit attitude test using offshore workers as participants will be presented and interventions that lead to sustained attitude change at both the explicit and implicit levels will be discussed. References: Cox, S. & Flin, R. (1998); Safety culture: Philosopher's stone or man of straw? Work & Stress, 12(3), 189-201. Cullen, W. D. (1990); The Public Inquiry into the Piper Alpha disaster. London: HMSO; Reason, J. (1997); Managing the Risks of Organizational Accidents. Aldershot: Ashgate; Wilson, T.D., Lindsey, S. & Schooler, T.Y. (2000). A model of dual attitudes. Psychological Review, 107(1), 101-126.