Management Review Quarterly

, Volume 69, Issue 4, pp 391–414 | Cite as

Factors leading to unsafe behavior in the twenty first century workplace: a review

  • Joana Eva Dodoo
  • Hosam Al-SamarraieEmail author


Work-related injuries, diseases and fatalities have received considerable attention by researchers and have led to a greater awareness about incident causation in the workplace. Most accidents and injuries emanating from workplaces are attributed to workers’ unsafe behaviors, which are also a reflection of system deficiency and hazardous work-environment. The purpose of this review was to investigate the factors contributing to workers’ unsafe behaviors. A review of 70 major empirical studies on unsafe behaviors was conducted within occupational safety and health research, and thereafter clustered into eight job domains namely: construction, healthcare, informal sector enterprises, manufacturing, mining, energy, agriculture, and multi-dimensional context. The results across these domains were reported and compared, along with their consequences and solutions. The study found that lack of adequate knowledge on safety and health, violation of safety rules, work pressure, stress and non-use of protective equipment were the main factors of unsafe behaviors. Several major solutions to these behaviors were highlighted for consideration by practitioners and policy developers. The outcomes from this review will assist safety managers in understanding how to motivate employees/workers to engage in proper safety practices.


Unsafe behavior Organizational factors Employees’ development Job safety 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Joana Eva Dodoo declares that she has no conflict of interest. Author Hosam Al-Samarraie declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Business Studies, College of Distance EducationUniversity of Cape CoastCape CoastGhana
  2. 2.Centre for Instructional Technology and MultimediaUniversiti Sains MalaysiaGelugorMalaysia

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