There are situations where employees work with little or no supervision and as such present unique an ongoing management challenge. These challenges clearly include not only compliance with required work practices, but also compliance with safety polices rules and practices.
Without the opportunity to confirm that safety practices are being followed by direct observation, the only other indicator is the lack of accidents. The use of Workers' Compensations and/or OSHA Recordable injuries as an indicator of a successful safety and health program is wrought with problems.
There are industries and jobs where employees work in relative isolation from both supervision but also fellow workers. Occupations such as truck driver, forestry, mail delivery and many sales positions are those that often have employees working alone and with little or no direct contact with supervision and therefore little opportunity to be involved in the company's safety program.
A number of published research studies (Cohen (1977), Dieterly & Schnieder (1974), Simonds, & Shafari-Sahrai (1974), Smith, et. al. (1978)) have examined those very differences to try to determine exactly why certain companies achieve superior safety results while others struggle. This historical research, along with on-going research in this area, suggests that certain key factors are found with greater frequency and strength in companies with superior safety results than in those with average or poor safety results. Two of those factors include 1) strong management leadership, including visible support and involvement in the safety process and 2) active and meaningful employee participation and involvement in the safety process.
There is a paucity of research into the use of self-management approaches as a means to reduce accidents. Most studied examining the impact of self-report on behaviors have been limited to clinical and school settings. In clinical settings most of the studies have dealt with subjects' ability to self-monitor the administration of medication and other therapeutic requirements.
In a school setting, one study attempted to determine the accuracy of self-reports on repeated activities (Lloyd and Hillard, 1989). The study examined the value of self reports as a means to sustain appropriate classroom behaviors. The authors concluded that in the absence of other contingencies, the use of self-reports for long periods of time were questionable. In a similar study (Webber 1993), an attempt was made to determine if self-monitoring of classroom behaviors among special education students influenced or helped to manage those behaviors. The authors reported some success, but cautioned the ability of self reports alone to be of limited value in managing in-class behaviors. One in-class experiment (Carr, Taylor and Austin, 1995) studied the effect of self reporting on one behavior (eye-blinks). One aspect of this experiment demonstrated the concept of reactivity, which is the alteration of a behavior because it is being monitored. The results suggested that students' eye-blinks decreased when they were self-monitoring and reporting versus when they were being independently observed.