The prediction of safe lifting behavior: An application of the theory of planned behavior

Document Type


Department or Administrative Unit

Engineering Technologies, Safety, and Construction

Publication Date




Injuries resulting from lifting are costly, and create significant pain and discomfort. While engineering controls are the most effective means of reducing risks, most organizations continue to rely on manual lifting techniques. The problem, however, is that the use of safe-lifting techniques is inconsistent and managers have a difficult time motivating use of these techniques. Consequently, it is important to understand the factors driving safe-lifting behaviors.


This study used a survey to apply the theory of planned behavior (Ajzen, I., 1991. The theory of planned behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 50, 179–211) to safe-lifting among 136 materials management employees at a heavy manufacturing organization. Structural equation modeling and factor analysis were employed to analyze relationships among constructs.


Results revealed that perceived behavioral control and intention were the strongest predictors of safe-lifting behavior. Subjective norms, to a lesser degree, were also important influences on intention. Attitudes did not surface as effective direct predictors of safe-lifting behavior, but did affect behavior and intent via mediating factors (subjective norms and perceived behavioral control). Finally, the theory of planned behavior was supported as an effective model explaining safe-lifting behavior, and had potential application for many other safety-related behaviors.

Impact on industry

Results from this study emphasize the importance of perceived behavioral control as a factor associated with safety-related behavior.


This article was originally published in Journal of Safety Research. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

Due to copyright restrictions, this article is not available for free download from ScholarWorks @ CWU.


Journal of Safety Research


Copyright © 2005 National Safety Council and Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.