Interventions to address the human dynamics of injury prevention have improved dramatically since the early 1900s. The first systematic application of psychological science to industrial safety focused on finding the psychological causes of personal injuries. It assumed people were responsible for most close calls and injuries, usually through mental errors caused by anxiety, attitude, fear, stress, personality, or emotional state. Injury reduction was typically attempted by "readjusting" attitude or personality, usually through supervisor counseling or discipline

This so-called "psychological approach" held that certain individuals were "accident prone." By removing these workers from risky jobs or by disciplining them to correct their attitude or personality problems, it was thought workplace injuries could be reduced. But this focus on "accident-proneness" was not effective, partly because reliable and valid measurement procedures were not available. Also, the personality factors contributing to "accident proneness" are not probably consistent characteristics or traits within people, but vary from time to time and situation to situation.

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