Target Risk: Limits to safety seminar

IFAP is running a series of one-day seminars on target risk, with renowned speaker and author Dr Gerald Wilde.

Staff Reporter

The Industrial Foundation for Accident Prevention (IFAP) will be running a series of one-day seminars in Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane during November and December. The seminar series is also supported by SAFEmap and the Minerals Council of Australia.

The speaker is Dr Gerald Wilde, Professor of Psychology at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Wilde is the author of Target Risk.

Wilde's teaching and research interests include ergonomic psychology, skill acquisition, mass media messages and behaviour change, human behaviour in transportation, and the psychology of risk taking. (See events for details of dates).

According to seminar organisers, Wilde's central thesis is that individuals have different levels of perceived risk (a target risk); individuals adjust behaviour to meet that target risk level; and changing the target risk is possible.

Wilde's approach challenges traditional approaches to safety, which have been a focus on the three E's - Engineering, Education, Enforcement. Wilde asks "Do they work?"

This is what he has to say: "... a comparison of the per capita traffic death rate between 1927 and 1987 in the United States shows no noticeable difference, despite all the medical, technical, educational and legislative changes that were introduced during this period." (Wilde, 1994)

Among the issues that Wilde will cover during the seminar are:

- How reducing the severity of the consequence of risky behaviour can have the same result as increasing the severity of the consequences.

- A better-engineered workplace may have no effect on safe behaviour.

- How your choice of statistic can have a big impact on what you see as a success.

- The effect of the business cycle on accident frequency.

- A person's target level of risk.

- How people adjust to meet their target risk homeostasis.

- Evidence for risk homeostasis.

- Using risk homeostasis Theory to motivate for safer behaviour.

- Incentives - the good and the bad.