Introduction: The current project evaluated the effects of the collective behavior of multiple social models on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). Method: Prior to completing a simulated baggage-screening task, participants (N = 64) watched a scripted training video that included three confederate trainees. Participants were randomly assigned to one of four manipulations, where different proportions of confederates were shown putting on over-ear sound mufflers before starting the task (0, 1, 2, or 3). White noise played at 70 decibels in the test room, and PPE use was observed unobtrusively through a lab window at five time intervals. Results: The mean intervals of PPE use generally increased as the number of positive social models increased (0 = 0.63, 1 = 0.50, 2 = 1.25, 3 = 3.06), and differences between groups were significant [χ2 (3, N = 64) = 14.92, p < .01, η2 = 0.24]. The results suggest that the aggregate prevalence of safety behavior within work groups may be an important determinant of initial PPE use by new employees. Impact on Industry: Results suggest that new hires are likely to use PPE at a rate that is proportional to the collective PPE use observed among their peers. Safety leaders should regularly measure the collective level of PPE use at job sites and encourage majority usage through appropriate interventions such as increasing the availability or quality of PPE, training, or positive reinforcement for compliance.
- Occupational Safety
- Personal Protective Equipment
- Social Modeling
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality