Development of risk communication tools for occupational exposures: An application of the mental models approach

Thomas Antonius Maria Stege

    Research output: PhD ThesisPhD-Thesis - Research and graduation internal

    160 Downloads (Pure)


    Work can be dangerous. Employees in industrial and maintenance-related occupations are often confronted with a broad array of workplace risks. These can be direct risks; employees could be at risk of falling, losing limbs due to machinery or explosions, or they could be exposed to toxic gases or noise. However, in some cases they are also exposed to not directly perceptible exposure risks, that may primarily cause long-term effects. This dissertation focuses on the latter category of risks. The reason is that these risks are often neglected compared to direct risks and perceptible exposures, which are often significantly more salient. Specifically, two not directly perceptible exposure risks are selected, which are particulate matter (PM) and electromagnetic fields (EMF). In many branches, work safety is already notably under the attention. For example, the Netherlands mandates periodical work safety meetings in several branches, where employees are regularly instructed about safety-related subjects. The question remains, however, if the current methods of risk communication are sufficiently effective. Long term effects due to exposure in the workplace are still commonplace, and safety regulations aimed to combat this do not always lead to compliance. Risk communication should aim, therefore, not only to improve knowledge and attitudes concerning a certain subject, but also to improve safety by changing behavior in the workplace. In this dissertation, we investigated to what extent this behavioral change is needed concerning both of the selected exposure risks. For this goal, we used the mental models approach, where employees’ perceptions are systematically compared to expert views concerning the aforementioned risks. We also gave attention to the current methods of risk mitigation, and the way risk communication is currently handled, both inside and outside the mandated periodical work safety meetings. The main goal of this research is to map employees’ needs for risk communication of not directly perceptible exposure risks in the workplace, and to anticipate on these needs by developing and implementing an appropriate method of risk communication.
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
    • Timmermans, Danielle, Supervisor, External person
    • Bolte, J.F.B., Co-supervisor, External person
    • Claassen, L., Co-supervisor, External person
    Award date14 Sept 2022
    Place of Publications.l.
    Print ISBNs9789464217964
    Electronic ISBNs9789464217964
    Publication statusPublished - 14 Sept 2022


    Dive into the research topics of 'Development of risk communication tools for occupational exposures: An application of the mental models approach'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this