High-risk Employees: PsychTests' Research Reveals Personality Factors That Lead To Accident Proneness

PsychTests' study looks at the traits and attitudes of employees who are most likely to cause on-the-job accidents.


Psychtests.com, one of the web's foremost sources of personality, career, and IQ assessments, unveils the results of their study on accident-prone employees. High-risk individuals were severely lacking in key traits like conscientiousness, harm avoidance, attentiveness, and respect for rules.

Accident proneness isn't a disposition that one can easily write off as a "quirk." Some people may admit with a sheepish grin that they're a bit of a "klutz," but there are certain personality traits that can make accidents more likely, as the latest research from PsychTests indicates. Their study reveals that employees who were more likely to be fired for unsafe behavior possessed a combination of traits, namely high sensation seeking (desire for novel and exciting experiences), low harm avoidance (desire to steer clear of situations that have the potential for negative consequences), low conscientiousness, poor attention span, lack of respect for rules, and an unwillingness to take responsibility for their actions.

Age comparisons reveal that men and women below the age of 25 tended to be the most accident prone. Traits like sensation seeking and rule breaking decreased with age, while harm avoidance, conscientiousness, attentiveness and responsibility increased with age. Older adults were also more likely to have a strict attitude toward safety rules - and toward those who neglect to follow them.

"It's important to understand that the traits that contribute to accident proneness should be taken as a whole - as a profile," explains Dr. Jerabek, president of the company. "Sensation seeking alone, for example, isn't necessarily a 'bad' thing - combined with high conscientious, you'll have an employee who is likely to be a confident and calculated risk-taker. However, if you have someone who is a sensation seeker, who is not conscientious, and who has a contempt for rules, you may have someone who is going to be more of a liability in a job where 'safety first' is essential."

On the flipside, performance ratings were highest for those who had a strict attitude toward safety, who were attentive and responsible, and who scored well in conscientiousness, a trait that has been found to be crucial in high-risk jobs like police officers (Detrick & Chibnall, 2006) and production workers (Wallance & Vodanovich, 2003), and to be a strong predictor of job performance in general, across different occupations (Stewart, 1999).

"Screening for accident-related personality traits can be a crucial part of the hiring process, especially for jobs where safety is a top priority," advises Dr. Jerabek. "This is what makes personality assessments the more cost-effective approach. Screening for high-risk people before hiring is a lot easier and cheaper than firing unsafe employees after the fact."

PsychTests' study on accident-prone workers also reveals that:

  • 64% would quit their job without finding a new one first.
  • 80% will bend safety rules to save time or effort.
  • 87% believe that rules are made to be broken.
  • 91% admitted that they are easily distracted by things happening around them (e.g. phone ringing, conversations nearby, etc.).
  • 94% admitted that if they don't see the point of a rule, they won't follow it.
  • Only 9% would intervene if they saw a colleague breaking an important safety rule.
  • Only 10% ask for advice from colleagues or supervisors before making risky decisions/maneuvers.
  • Only 10% wear their seatbelt every time they are in a car.
  • Only 14% stated that they check their work carefully before considering it done.

Those who wish to learn more about their own degree of accident proneness can go to http://testyourself.psychtests.com/testid/2448.

Employers interested in using this or other pre-employment tests can visit http://corporate.psychtests.com/solutions/hr_testing.

About Psychtests AIM Inc.

PsychTests AIM Inc. originally appeared on the internet scene in 1996. Since its inception, it has become a pre-eminent provider of psychological assessment products and services to human resource personnel, therapists, academics, researchers and a host of other professionals around the world. PsychTests AIM Inc. staff is comprised of a dedicated team of psychologists, test developers, researchers, statisticians, writers, and artificial intelligence experts. The company's research division, Plumeus Inc., is supported in part by Research and Development Tax Credit awarded by Industry Canada.

Ilona Jerabek, Ph.D., President
Psychtests AIM Inc.