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Snake warning sign

Warning signs, such as this one, can improve safety awareness.

Safety is the state of being "safe" (from French sauf), the condition of being protected against physical, social, spiritual, financial, political, emotional, occupational, psychological, educational or other types or consequences of failure, damage, error, accidents, harm or any other event which could be considered non-desirable. This can take the form of being protected from the event or from exposure to something that causes health or economical losses. It can include protection of people or of possessions.

There also are two slightly different meanings of safety, for example, a safety home may indicate its protection ability against external harm events, and the second that its internal installations are safe (not danger/harmful) for its habitants.

Safety can be limited in relation to some guarantee or a standard of insurance to the quality and unharmful function of an object or organization. It is used in order to ensure that the object or organization will do only what it is meant to do.

Types of safetyEdit

It is important to distinguish between products that meet standards, that are safe, and those that merely feel safe. The highway safety community uses these terms:

Normative safety is a term used to describe products or designs that meet applicable design standards.

Substantive safety means that the real-world safety history is favorable, whether or not standards are met.

Perceived safety refers to the level of comfort of users. For example, traffic signals are perceived as safe, yet under some circumstances, they can increase traffic crashes at an intersection. Traffic roundabouts have a generally favorable safety record, yet often make drivers nervous.

Risks and responses Edit

Safety is generally interpreted as implying a real and significant impact on risk of death, injury or damage to property. In response to perceived risks many interventions may be proposed with engineering responses and regulation being two of the most common.

Probably the most common individual response to perceived safety issues is insurance, which compensates for or provides restitution in the case of damage or loss.

Safety measures Edit

Safety measures are activities and precautions taken to improve safety, i.e. reduce risk related of to human health. Common safety measures interest to psychologists include:

  • Visual examination for dangerous situations such as emergency exits blocked because they are being used as storage areas.
  • Visual examination for flaws such as cracks, peeling, loose connections.
  • Stress testing subjects a person or product to stresses in excess of those the person or product is designed to handle, to determining the "breaking point".
  • Implementation of standard protocols and procedures so that activities are conducted in a known way.
  • Training of employees, vendors, product users
  • Instruction manuals explaining how to use a product or perform an activity
  • Instructional videos demonstrating proper use of products
  • Examination of activities by specialists to minimize physical stress or increase productivity
  • Government regulation so suppliers know what standards their product is expected to meet.
  • Industry regulation so suppliers know what level of quality is expected. Industry regulation is often imposed to avoid potential government regulation.
  • Self-imposed regulation of various types.
  • Statements of Ethics by industry organizations or an individual company so its employees know what is expected of them.
  • Drug testing of employees, etc.
  • Physical examinations to determine whether a person has a physical condition that would create a problem.
  • Periodic evaluations of employees, departments, etc.

Standards organizations Edit

A number of standards organizations exist that promulgate safety standards. These may be voluntary organizations or government agencies.

American National Standards Institute Edit

A major American standards organization is the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Usually, members of a particular industry will voluntarily form a committee to study safety issues and propose standards. Those standards are then recommended to ANSI, which reviews and adopts them. Many government regulations require that products sold or used must comply with a particular ANSI standard.

Testing laboratories Edit

Product safety testing, for the United States, is controlled by OSHATemplate:Vs, in accordance with the Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL), see [1].

For other countries, there are many other organizations that have accreditation to test and/or submit test reports for safety certification. These are typically referred to as a Notified or Competent Body. The most common is the IECEE Certification Body Scheme, see [2]

Government agencies Edit

Many government agencies set safety standards for matters under their jurisdiction, such as the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Food and Drug Administration.

See also Edit

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