Purpose – Many researchers have investigated the determinants of workers’ risk-taking/unsafe behaviours as a way to improve safety management and reduce accidents but there has been a general lack of research about workers’ risk information seeking behaviours or their source preferences for risk information. The purpose of this paper is to investigate whether occupational risk information source preference was risk independent (i.e. whether workers prefer to receive occupational risk information from proximal sources like supervisors and workmates regardless of the nature of the risk or the source's expertise regarding that risk, or if they discriminated between information sources based on the type of risk being considered).
Design/methodology/approach – Data were collected from 106 frontline construction workers who were recruited from a single building site within the UK with the help of the safety officer on site. The source from which workers preferred to receive information about a range of risks was measured using a ranking exercise. Specifically, workers were asked to rank five occupational sources (HSE, safety manager, project manager, supervisor, workmates) according to how much they preferred each one to deliver information about eight different risks (asbestos, back pain, site transport, heights, slips/trips, housekeeping, and site-specific and job-specific risks).
Findings – The paper found that supervisors and safety managers were the most preferred sources of risk information overall, but a correspondence analysis suggested that workers’ risk information source preference is risk dependent and might be driven by source expertise.
Practical implications – The findings have important practical implications for the role of safety managers in risk communication and for building trust within high-hazard organisations.
Originality/value – To the author's knowledge, this is the first study to investigate risk information source preferences in an occupational setting.