C10.7.5.5 Individual Factors


Individual factors include the employee’s competence, skills, personality, attitude, and risk perception. Individual characteristics influence behaviour in complex ways. Some characteristics such as personality are fixed; others such as skills and attitudes may be changed or enhanced.

To be considered competent, an individual needs:

  • Knowledge and training.
  • Skills and experience.
  • Recognition of their limitation.
  • In addition, the individual also needs the ability to communicate and to apply knowledge in a given situation.

The individual factors that might place a person at a greater risk of harm while at work include:



Attitude is a tendency to respond positively or negatively to certain persons, objects or situations. A person’s attitude may mean that they respond to instruction or proactively keep their working area clean and tidy; or vice-versa.



Aptitude is a measure of how appropriate a person’s actions are. An employee may know about health and safety issues, yet still take an inappropriate course of action when faced with making a decision.



Motivation is having the encouragement to do something. Poorly motivated employees may simply not follow rules and procedures.

Managers can motivate staff to behave safely by showing their commitment to health and safety by:

  • Taking regular health and safety tours.
  • Regular attendance of health and safety committees.
  • Through active involvement in investigations of accidents, incidents and ill-health.


Dangerous behaviour:

Horseplay can be dangerous behaviour. Sometimes people simply do not consider the risks caused by their behaviour.



Intelligence is the capacity to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend ideas and to learn. Employees with lower intelligence may not be able to perceive danger as well as their colleagues.



Experience as a general concept comprises of knowledge, skill in or observation of something or some event gained through involvement in or exposure to that thing or event. Inexperienced employees may not be able to perceive danger as well as their colleagues.



Training can raise awareness of hazards and risks. It can help employees to know what to do in the event of a dangerous situation and make them feel more comfortable with decision making.


Workplace environment:

The workplace environment may affect a person’s behaviour. Extremes of light, temperature and humidity will affect a person’s attitude, aptitude and motivation. All of which will affect their behaviour and therefore their behaviour in terms of safety.


Work Pressure:

Work pace and work load factors contribute to work pressure. When people are under pressure they are more likely to make errors, mistakes or violations.