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The Psychology of Safety Handbook: 2nd Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Psychology of Safety Handbook

2nd Edition

By E. Scott Geller

CRC Press

560 pages

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Hardback: 9781566705400
pub: 2000-12-21
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pub: 2016-04-19
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You cannot improve your organization's safety performance to enviable levels without addressing human behavior and attitude effectively. The only comprehensive reference on the psychology of the human dynamics of safety, The Psychology of Safety Handbook shows you how to apply psychology to improve safety and health in your organization. Dr. Geller provides theory, procedures, and tools to guide your organization's long-term continuous improvement.

Based on Dr. Geller's bestselling The Psychology of Safety, this new and expanded Handbook gives you everything you need to decrease the frequency and severity of accidental injuries in your organization. He covers all areas of psychology directly relevant to understanding and influencing safety-related behaviors.

Engineering interventions and government policy have made their mark on injury reduction. Now it is time to work with the human dynamics of injury prevention. The cause of most injuries can be attributed to at-risk behavior or insufficient safe behavior. The Psychology of Safety Handbook not only teaches principles and practical procedures for improving safety-related behaviors, but also illustrates how to increase people's willingness to use these techniques to create a Total Safety Culture.

For more than three decades, Professor E. Scott Geller has taught and conducted research as a faculty member of Virginia Tech's Department of Psychology. In this capacity he has authored more than 250 research articles and over 50 books or chapters addressing the development and evaluation of behavior-change interventions to improve quality of life. He has authored seven books on managing behaviors and attitudes for occupational health and safety, including The Psychology of Safety and Working Safe.

Dr. Geller is Senior Partner of Safety Performance Solutions, a leading training and consulting firm helping companies empower their employees to achieve a Total Safety Culture. He has been awarded Fellow status by the American Psychological Association, the American Psychological Society, and the World Academy of Productivity and Quality. Moreover, Scott Geller has been honored with three university-wide teaching awards - every one offered by Virginia Tech.


"This book is a must read for all safety professionals who desire to influence individuals and organizations for improving performance"

-Samuel J. Gualardo, CSP, President, American Society of Safety Engineers

"This is a book for people who want to get things done…for people who want to save lives. The approach works."

-William A. Smith, Ph.D., Academy for Educational Development

"…the most comprehensive and state-of-the-art review of what is an incredibly complex and often frustrating subject for safety professionals and managers alike."

-Richard Lack, Safety and Protection Services, Cheyenne, Wyoming

"This book is vintage Scott Geller - full of insight, practical examples, and genuine concern for protecting the safety and health of others."

-Don Lisman, VP, Hoescht Fibers and Specialty Chemicals

"Scott Geller knows more about the psychology of safety than anyone…[he] shows how to create a culture that values actively caring. It should be required reading for every safety professional, every manager, and every employee."

-Terry E. McSween, Ph.D., President, Quality Safety Edge, Houston, Texas

"Dr. Geller teaches us that safety is really in our own hands for ourselves and those around us."

-Morris E. Chafetz, M.D., 1995 Inductee into the Health and Safety Hall of Fame International

Table of Contents


Choosing the Right Approach

Selecting the Best Approach

The Fallacy of Relying on Common Sense

Start with Behavior

Starting with Theory

The Mission Statement

Theory as a Map

Behavior-Based vs. Person-Based Approaches

Paradigm Shifts for Total Safety

The Old Three Es

Three New Es

Shifting Paradigms

Enduring Values


The Complexity of People

Fighting Human Nature

Cognitive Failures

Interpersonal Factors

Sensation, Perception, and Perceived Risk

An Example of Selective Sensation or Perception

Perceived Risk

Risk Compensation

Stress vs. Distress

What is Stress?

Identifying Stressors

Coping with Stressors

Attributional Bias


Basic Principles

Primacy of Behavior

Direct Assessment and Evaluation

Intervention by Managers and Peers

Learning from Experience

Defining Critical Behaviors

The DO IT Process

Defining Target Behaviors

Observing Behavior

Two Basic Approaches

Behavioral Safety Analysis

Reducing Behavioral Discrepancy

Behavior-Based Safety Training

Intervention and the Flow of Behavior Change


Intervening with Activators

Principle #1: Specify Behavior

Principle #2: Maintain Salience with Novelty

Principle #3: Vary the Message

Principle #4: Involve the Target Audience

Principle #5: Activate Close to Response Opportunity

Principle #6: Implicate Consequences

Intervening with Consequences

The Power of Consequences

Managing Consequences for Safety

"Dos" and "Don'ts" of Safety Rewards

Intervening as a Behavior-Change Agent

Selecting an Intervention Approach

Intervening as a Safety Coach

The Safety Coaching Process

What Can a Safety Coach Achieve?

Self Appraisal of Coaching Skills

Intervening with Supportive Conversation

The Power of Conversation

The Art of Improving Conversation

Conversation for Safety Management

Recognizing Safety Achievement

Receiving Recognition Well

Quality Safety Celebrations

Choosing the Best Management Conversation


Understanding Actively Caring

What is Actively Caring?

The Psychology of Actively Caring

Deciding to Actively Care

A Consequence Analysis of Actively Caring

The Power of Context

The Person-Based Approach to Actively Caring

Actively Caring From the Inside

Measuring Actively Caring States

Theoretical Support for the Actively Caring Model

Research Support for the Actively Caring Model

Actively Caring and Emotional Intelligence

Increasing Actively Caring Behaviors

Enhancing the Actively Caring Person States

The Power of Choice

Directly Increasing Actively Caring Behaviors

The Reciprocity Principle

Commitment and Consistency


Promoting High-Performance Teamwork

Paradigm Shifts for Teamwork

When Teams Don't Work Well

Cultivating High-Performance Teamwork

The Developmental Stages of Teamwork

Evaluating for Continuous Improvement

Measuring the Right Stuff

Developing a Comprehensive Evaluation Process

Cooking Numbers for Evaluation

Evaluating Costs and Benefits

You Cannot Measure Everything

Obtaining and Maintaining Involvement

Starting the Process

Cultivating Continuous Support

Overcoming Resistance to Change

Planning for Safety Generalization

Building and Sustaining Momentum

Reviewing the Principles

The 50 Principles

Subject Index

Name Index

Each chapter also includes In Conclusion and Reference sections.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MEDICAL / Psychiatry / General
TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Industrial Health & Safety