December 22 2019
By: Terry L. Mathis
The extent to which an individual recognizes the relationship between their actions and the outcomes of their efforts is called locus of control (LOC). A person with an internal LOC realizes they can change results by changing their own performance, whereas a person with an external LOC tends to feel that outcomes are controlled by forces other than themselves. In safety, individuals with external LOC tend to take more risks, believing that their own actions will not make a difference. When such individuals are accident-free for a period, it is usually more a matter of luck than safe performance.
While individuals have a predisposition to either internal or external LOC, certain training techniques can influence and sometimes significantly change that predisposition. Also, individuals can have their LOC tested with a survey instrument that has a reliable degree of accuracy. It is not financially feasible to test a whole population, but such instruments can be used for the last round of candidates for new hires, and interviewing techniques can also be modified to give a better indication of LOC.
Terry Mathis, Founder and retired CEO of ProAct Safety, has served as a consultant and advisor for top organizations the world over. A respected strategist and thought leader, Terry has authored five books, numerous articles, videos and blogs, and is known for his dynamic and engaging presentations. EHS Today has named him one of the '50 People Who Most Influenced EHS' four consecutive times. Business leaders and safety professionals seek Terry's practical insight and unique ability to introduce new perspectives that lead to real change.