Application of a mental models approach to MSDS design.
Smith-Jackson TL; Wogalter MS
Theor Issues Ergon Sci 2007 Jul-Aug; 8(4):303-319
In the U.S.A., Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) are required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Mental model theories of cognitive processing predict that information format inconsistencies can undermine usability and thereby worker safety and compliance. The present study explored whether information presentation priorities are dependent upon the population tested. Ninety participants were sampled from three populations (undergraduates, community volunteers, and firefighters). Participants sorted cards containing chunks of information comprised of MSDS headings and text. Mean rank analyses showed that health-related information was given higher priority than other information, such as reactivity or chemical make-up. While there were similarities for the different subgroups, the firefighters differed from the other two groups in several respects. Results were consistent with previous research on schema differences between groups based upon experience and expectations. Implications for MSDS design and application of usability and mental model approaches to improve safety communications are discussed.
Models; Workers; Safety-programs; Safety-measures; Humans; Men; Women; Analytical-processes; Communication-systems;
Author Keywords: Safety data sheets; Mental models; Information design; Communication ergonomics
Theoretical Issues in Ergonomics Science
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University