Safety culture, advice andperformanceThe associations between safety culture and safetyperformance, health and wellbeing at an individuallevel, and safety culture, competent occupational safetyand health advice, and safety performance at acorporate levelReport submitted to the IOSH Research CommitteeProf Andy P Smith and Dr Emma J K WadsworthCardiff Universityresearch report09.1
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Safety culture, advice andperformanceThe associations between safety culture and safetyperformance, health and wellbeing at an individuallevel, and safety culture, competent occupational safetyand health advice, and safety performance at acorporate levelReport submitted to the IOSH Research CommitteeProf Andy P Smith and Dr Emma J K WadsworthCentre for Occupational and Health PsychologyCardiff University63 Park PlaceCardiffCF10 3ASUK
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ContentsLists of figuresList of tablesAcknowledgmentsAbstractExecutive summary457891Introduction102Literature review133Study design and methodology164Findings and results205Discussion63AppendicesAppendix 1: Selection of measures of performance, climate and adviceAppendix 2: Multivariate analysesAppendix 3: General workers survey677274References76
List of figures12345Participating units’ overall incident scoresParticipating units’ benchmark incident scoresParticipating units’ mean hazard management scoresParticipating units’ benchmark hazard management scoresProportion of respondents with favourable ‘organisational commitment’responses in each participating organisation2727282843
List of ial sectors of the business units that agreed to take part in the surveyIndustrial sectors of the business units that completed the studyClimate survey distribution, returns and response ratesPerformance scoresIncident data for the previous yearPerformance scores by industry sectorBenchmark performance scores by industry sectorComparison of the mean performance scores of organisations from higherand lower-hazard sectors of industryComparison of the benchmark performance scores of organisations fromhigher- and lower-hazard sectors of industryAbsolute performance scores by organisation sizeBenchmark performance scores by organisation sizeDemographic data on advice survey respondentsHazards on which advisers provided competent adviceAdvisers’ training and/or qualification levelTraining and qualifications by adviser’s industry sectorTraining and qualifications by number of employees on site at whichthe adviser is a competent personIOSH membership by training and qualificationsIOSH membership by adviser’s industry sectorIOSH membership by number of employees on site at which the adviser is acompetent personSafety systems and policiesOSH policies and systems by adviser’s training and qualificationsMean proportions of favourable climate responses by industry sectorClimate Survey Tool factor responsesSafety perception factor scores by individual safety performance:number of accidents at work in the last 12 monthsSafety perception factor scores by individual safety performance:number of minor injuries at work in the last 12 monthsSafety perception factor scores by individual safety performance:number of cognitive failures at work in the last 12 monthsUnivariate associations (F, p) between safety perception factors andhealth and wellbeing measuresSafety perceptions and work accidentsSafety perceptions and minor injuriesSafety perceptions and minor injuries – including industry sectorSafety perceptions and cognitive failuresSafety perceptions and sick leaveSafety perceptions and work-related illnessSafety perceptions and work stressSummary of associations between perceptions of and attitudes towards safetyand both individual safety performance and health and wellbeingIndividual safety performance by climate surveyIndividual health and wellbeing by climate surveySafety perception factors by climate surveySummary of associations between perceptions of and attitudes towards safetyand both individual safety performance and health and wellbeing – forgeneral workers and main study participantsCorporate safety performance and advice – mean scoresClimate, advice and performanceClimate, advice and performance – general measuresHealth and safety performance toolsSafety culture or climate toolsOSH practitioner competence and experience toolsFactors includes in the analyses by blockSafety perceptions and accidents at workSafety perceptions and minor injuries at 46474748494950505151515254545455575961676771727474
6 Smith and nitive failures at worksick leavework-related illnesswork stress74747575
Safety culture, advice and performance 7AcknowledgmentsThe research described in this report was supported by IOSH. We would also like to thank all thoseorganisations and individuals that took part in the research for their interest in, and invaluablecontribution to, this project. Our thanks also go to those who facilitated our contact withorganisations and individuals, including Rachel Coombe (Cardiff University), Mike Salmon (CardiffUniversity), Geraint Day (Institute of Directors (IoD)), CHSS, IOSH, the Confederation of BritishIndustry, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), Rhiannon Buck (CardiffUniversity), the IoD and the Universities Safety and Health Association (USHA). We are also gratefulto the steering committee, which comprised Ian Bartlett (Biotechnology and Biological SciencesResearch Council), Roger Bibbings (RoSPA), Richard Booth (Aston University), Mary Ogungbeje(IOSH), David Walters (Cardiff University) and Andy Weyman (University of Bath), for their adviceand support. Finally we would like to thank Paul Allen for his major role in the development of themethodology and data collection for the research.The views expressed in this report are those of the authors and should not be taken to reflect theofficial position of the sponsors.
8 Smith and WadsworthAbstractThe prevention of work-related injury and illness is of crucial importance to employees, industry andwider society. Corporate safety culture, which describes shared values within an organisation whichinfluence its members’ attitudes, values and beliefs in relation to safety, is now generally accepted ashaving a strong influence over workplace accidents and injuries. Occupational safety and health(OSH) practitioners or advisers also have a significant role to play in improving health and safety atwork, yet little is known about their specific contribution to safety performance. The aim of thisstudy, therefore, was to assess and compare the relative contributions of corporate safety culture andcompetent OSH advice to safety performance. The results showed that organisational safety culturewas consistently and independently associated with corporate safety performance. In addition, theresults showed independent associations between advice and corporate safety performance. However,these associations were not consistent in direction, suggesting a complex relationship, perhapsreflecting links with risk levels and industry sectors. A secondary aim of the research was to consideran association between employee perceptions of and attitudes towards safety and individual safetyperformance, health and wellbeing. Again independent associations were identified, suggesting thatusing measures of safety climate at an individual level to consider employees’ perceptions ofworkplace safety makes a significant contribution to understanding the profile of factors associatedwith employees’ health and safety. Overall, the study suggests that, while the nature of therelationship with advice requires clarification, both corporate safety culture and competent OSHadvice make significant, independent contributions to corporate safety performance.
Safety culture, advice and performance 9Executive summaryBackgroundThe prevention of work-related injury and illness is of crucial importance to employees, industry andwider society. Corporate safety culture describes shared values within an organisation which influenceits members’ attitudes, values and beliefs in relation to safety. In recent years corporate safety culturehas been cited as a contributory factor in accidents by many industrial accident investigations, and itis now generally accepted that organisations with a strong safety culture are more effective atpreventing workplace accidents and injuries. Occupational safety and health (OSH) practitioners oradvisers are an integral part of effective risk management systems and also have a significant role toplay in improving health and safety at work. Little is known, however, about the relativecontributions of safety culture and advice to safety performance.AimsThe aim of this study was to assess and compare the relative contributions of corporate safety cultureand competent OSH advice to safety performance. In addition, the work was intended to consider theapplicability and robustness of associations between culture and performance across organisationsdrawn from various sectors of industry. A secondary aim was to use measures of safety culture toassess perceptions of and attitudes towards safety at an individual level, and to consider anyassociation with individual safety performance and wellbeing.Study design and methodsOrganisations from across the UK and from various sectors of industry were invited to take part inthe study. For each organisation, this involved taking part in three questionnaire surveys: climate survey – completed by employees to give a snapshot of safety culture in the organisationadvice survey – completed by OSH practitioners or advisers to describe their experience andcompetenceperformance survey – completed on behalf of the organisation to describe its safety performance.Findings and resultsSafety culture (as measured by safety climate) was associated with safety performance at thecorporate level. This association was positive, showing that a more favourable safety culture wasassociated with improved safety performance. It was also independent of other potentially influentialfactors, such as demographics and job characteristics, as well as industry sector. There were alsosignificant, independent associations between OSH advice and corporate safety performance.However, this relationship was more complex, perhaps reflecting an association with risk level andindustry sector. In addition, employees’ perceptions of and attitudes towards safety wereindependently associated with individual safety performance and wellbeing.ConclusionsSafety culture was consistently and independently associated with safety performance. In addition,employees’ perceptions of safety were consistently and independently associated with individual safetyperformance, health and wellbeing. These associations were not limited to particular sectors ofindustry, suggesting that they are robust and generally applicable. In addition, the findings suggestthat applying measures of safety climate at an individual level to look at perceptions of and attitudestowards workplace safety makes a significant contribution to understanding the profile of factorsassociated with employee health and safety. The study also highlighted an independent associationbetween health and safety advice and corporate safety performance. However, further research isneeded to explore and describe the nature of this relationship. Overall, the study suggests that, whilethe nature of the relationship with advice requires clarification, both corporate safety culture andcompetent OSH advice make significant, independent contributions to corporate safety performance.
10 Smith and Wadsworth1 Introduction1.1 BackgroundHealth and Safety Executive (H