It is widely known that intentional non-malevolent violations of safety procedures and norms occur and evidence shows that safety violations can increase the risk of accidents. However, little research about the causes of these violations in work settings exists. To help shed light on the causes, this paper systematically reviews the empirical causes of safety violations in industry. Electronic database literature searches were performed to identify relevant articles published prior to January 1, 2007. Thirteen articles met the inclusion criteria and 57 different variables were examined as predictors of safety violations. Study settings were healthcare delivery, commercial driving, aviation, mining, railroad, and construction. The predictors were categorized into individual characteristics, information/education/training, design to support worker needs, safety climate, competing goals, and problems with rules. None of the reviewed studies examined whether violations can improve system performance or safety. Methodological suggestions and a macroergonomic framework are offered for improving future studies of the epidemiology of safety violations. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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