Risk and the Rise of Generation Y

Health and Safety at Work, the official magazine of IIRSM (International Institute of Risk & Safety Management), recently talked about the differences between the generations when it comes to perceptions of risk.

H&S at Work argued in their June edition that while US studies concluded that there were no meaningful differences between the generations’ attitude to work, the way they learn about safety and respond to it is different.


They pointed out that David Costanza, Director of Industrial and Organisational Psychology at the George Washington University in Washington DC, stated that after 18 studies across a sample of nearly 20,000, ‘meaningful differences among generations probably do not exist on the workplace variables we examined’.

However, many other practitioners state that the different features of each generation shape how individuals react to health and safety systems; how they expect to learn about health and safety; and their attitude towards safety measures.


Andy Hawkes is the IIRSM President and Chief Executive. He looked at another survey by HR consultant company Mercer which stated that ‘millennials are willing to take a risk and that they care less about safety than they do about opportunity.’

Hawkes argued that millennials, however, have come of age in a culture that includes specific understandings of daily risks which are ingrained in our modern lifestyles; from food labels with high sugar content to awareness campaigns on the benefits of exercise. This has caused a rapid change in behaviours and attitudes to safety, making millenials more pro-active and less reactive to safety. This means that they can take more risks and care that little bit less on a conscious level as it’s so deeply ingrained in them to act and behave in safe ways on a day-to-day basis.

Not only that, but as millennials are accustomed to a world of instant gratification it means that when safety issues arise, they’ll want a quick fix – meaning that problems will likely be dealt with on a much quicker basis.

H&S at Work talks in detail about lots of other factors in risk and the rise of generation Y including learning about risk in school (the exam board’s criteria for assessment includes identifying hazards and risk assessments), LOcHER (Learning about OCcupational Health by Experiencing Risk) and Modern Apprenticeships (the introduction of the first Level 3 Health and Safety Apprenticeship).

Check out the full article and decide for yourself if Generation Y really are a different breed to those before them - https://www.healthandsafetyatwork.com/young-workers/risk-and-rise-gen-y

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Source: healthandsafetyatwork.com

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