The personal and societal costs of accidents are vast. Many factors contribute to the occurrence of accidents in the workplace. These include physical hazards (e.g. lifting and carrying; using stairs and inclines; kneeling and crouching) in the work environment (Dembe et al., 2004) socio-demographic (e.g. age and gender – Kirschenbaum et al., 2000) and personality factors (e.g. risk taking; neuroticism; introversion – Liao et al., 2001) management/systems failures (Decker 2002) and alcohol/substance abuse (Frone 1998). Research into workplace accidents has tended to concentrate on isolating specific predictors, e.g. risk associated with night work (Smith et al., 1994) but few have considered a cumulative effect associated with the work environment. Recently it is has become common to state that the risk associated with occupational accidents (and illness) is multi-factorial (Dembe et al., 2004; Melamed et al., 1999). It is important to consider the combination of stressors that the individual may be exposed to as this will reflect the reality of work more appropriately – stress is liable to come from a number of sources; this is an approach that has been used in other areas, for example developmental and environmental psychology (Evans 2003). Melamed and colleagues developed the Ergonomic-Stress-Level (ESL) measure (Melamed et al., 1999; Melamed et al., 1989). ESL measured the following: body motion and posture, physical effort,
active hazards and environmental stressors experienced by the individual in their job. This tool has been used to research the association between ESL, personal characteristics, accident occurrence and sickness absence among factory workers (Melamed et al., 1989) and a linear relationship between ESL and accident incidence was found.