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Evaluating the Efficacy of a Mental Models Approach for Improving Occupational Chemical Risk Protection

Niewöhner, Jörg, Cox, Patrick, Gerrard, Simon and Pidgeon, Nicholas Frank ORCID: 2004. Evaluating the Efficacy of a Mental Models Approach for Improving Occupational Chemical Risk Protection. Risk Analysis 24 (2) , pp. 349-361. 10.1111/j.0272-4332.2004.00437.x

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Chemical risk protection in the workplace relies partly on informing workers about possible risks using material safety data sheets (MSDS). This article reports on phase 2 of a project (phase 1 reported in Cox et al.), which employed a mental models approach to improve on data sheets as communicative interventions for perchloroethylene in dry cleaning and rosin-based solder flux in the electronics industry within small businesses in the United Kingdom (small enterprises (SEs) < 25 employees in the workplace). It focuses on the efficacy of a multimethod evaluation strategy to assess (1) the capacity of a mental models approach to yield contextually relevant data for intervention design and (2) the effectiveness of the strategy itself in validating the mental models data. The evaluation was conducted using postal questionnaires and semi-structured verbal protocols to provide responses to the alternative intervention content and to prioritize risk messages. User discussion groups were then employed, particularly as a means of establishing whether contextual information could be obtained that would differ qualitatively from the kind elicited through individual (semi) structured methods. We conclude that the mental models approach as part of an iterative process including systematic multimethod evaluation is successful in supporting the design of relevant communications to the users of chemicals. The overall viability of communicative interventions in the context of health and safety in small businesses remains in question. Future research might aim to develop a more holistic approach to interventions in complex occupational contexts.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD61 Risk Management
Uncontrolled Keywords: Chemical risks; mental models; MSDS; multimethod evaluation; occupational safety; risk communication
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 0272-4332
Last Modified: 21 Oct 2022 08:46

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