Applied Safety + Ergonomics
Behavioral Adaptation: Unintended Consequences of Safety Interventions

Excerpt from Abstract

Various types of safety interventions (i.e., design attributes, guarding, personal protective equipment, training, warnings, etc.) can be, and often are, used to enhance safety with products or in environments. However, a safety intervention introduced into a system can, as with other changes to a system, produce secondary effects that have the potential to reduce the safety of the system rather than increase it as intended. One such effect…is that humans may adapt their behavior in the presence of a safety intervention and that this behavioral adaptation can create a continuum of effects ranging from a positive increase in safety to a net decrease in safety. Several examples of behavioral adaptation are provided and implications for human factors and safety professionals are discussed.


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