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Characterizing Occupational Risk Perception: the Case of Biological, Ergonomic and Organizational Hazards in Spanish Healthcare Workers

  • Mariona Portell (a1), Rosa M. Gil (a2), Josep M. Losilla (a1) and Jaume Vives (a1)


Understanding how risk is perceived by workers is necessary for effective risk communication and risk management. This study adapts key elements of the psychometric perspective to characterize occupational risk perception at a worker level. A total of 313 Spanish healthcare workers evaluated relevant hazards in their workplaces related to biological, ergonomic and organizational factors. A questionnaire elicited workers' ratings of 3 occupational hazards on 9 risk attributes along with perceived risk. Factor and regression analyses reveal regularities in how different risks are perceived, while, at the same time, the procedure helps to summarize specificities in the perception of each hazard. The main regularity is the weight of feeling of dread/severity in order to characterize the risk perceived (β ranges from .22 to .41; p < .001). Data also suggest an underestimation of expert knowledge in relation to the personal knowledge of risk. Thus, participants consider their knowledge of the risk related to biological, ergonomic, and organizational hazards to be higher than the knowledge attributed to the occupational experts (mean differences 95% CIs [.10, .30], [.54, .94], and [0.52, 1.05]). We demonstrate the application of a feasible and systematic procedure to capture how workers perceive hazards in their immediate work environment.


Corresponding author

*Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Mariona Portell. Department of Psychobiology and Methodology of Health Sciences. Edificio B. Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. 08193. Cerdanyola del Vallès (Spain). Phone: +34–935811623. Fax: + 34–935812001. E-mail:


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Characterizing Occupational Risk Perception: the Case of Biological, Ergonomic and Organizational Hazards in Spanish Healthcare Workers

  • Mariona Portell (a1), Rosa M. Gil (a2), Josep M. Losilla (a1) and Jaume Vives (a1)


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