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Safety climate: Conceptual and measurement issues.


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Expands the description of the work environment, work organization and supervision by a presentation of safety climate that includes shared perceptions concerning safety policies, procedures, and practices including management practices. Based on this conceptualization of safety climate, the author then presents a multilevel model of safety climate relating safety climate to behavior-outcome expectancies, safety behavior, injury rates, and health problems. The model identifies several contextual factors, leadership, and job and technology characteristics that can influence safety climate. To conclude, the author addresses issues in the measurement of safety climate and identifies future research directions to further our understanding of the relations between safety climate, safety behavior, and occupational safety and health. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Workplace injuries and illnesses result in about
5% loss of Gross Domestic Product (World Health
Organization, 2008). Such a loss is expected to cost
the American economy an estimated $550 billion a
year (Bureau of Economic Analysis, 2008), in addi-
tion to human su ering and loss of life. Afatal work
injury occurs every 115 minutes (i.e., less than 2
hours) in the United States, and a disabling injury
every 10 seconds (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010).
Large-scale accidents such as the Chernobyl nuclear
plant in Russia, Deepwater Horizon, and BP Texas
City re nery in the United States, Westray coal
mine in Canada, Piper Alpha oil platform in Great
Britain, Bhopal Union Carbide gas plant in India,
or Waterfall Rail accident in Australia have pro-
vided dramatic evidence of the human, economic,
and environmental costs of industrial accidents
(Chiles, 2001). However, despite the economic and
social signi cance of safety issues, they have received
only cursory attention by management scholars
(Fahlbruch & Wilpert, 1999; Glendon, Clarke, &
Two notable exceptions include the qualitative,
case study–based literature on high-reliability orga-
nizations (Weick, Sutcli e, & Obstfeld, 1999)and
the larger and fast-growing body of research on
safety climate and/or culture, which has captured
increasing attention since the international inquiry
into the Chernobyl nuclear disaster identi ed inad-
equate safety culture as a major underlying factor
for the accident (IAEA, 2005). A recent review
indicated that the number of scienti c publications
in this  eld has been increasing exponentially over
the last decade (Huang, Chen, & Grosch, 2010).
Furthermore, four recent meta-analyses, cover-
ing up to 202 studies (Beus, Payne, Bergman, &
Arthur, 2010; Christian, Bradley, Wallace, &
The chapter offers a conceptual framework for safety climate research, using the organizational climate
literature to generate a number of attributes qualifying climate perceptions as opposed to other
perception-based constructs in organizational behavior research. These attributes serve as guidelines for
construing both the core meaning of safety climate and its operationalization with congruent scale items.
Subsequently, the chapter reviews known antecedents and consequences of safety climate, resulting in
a conceptual model integrating the entire set of variables in the nomological network of this construct.
Next, the chapter expands this nomological network by offering some new antecedent and consequence
variables as well as a multi-level conceptualization of safety climate. The chapter concludes with a review
of intervention studies aimed at safety climate improvement, suggesting ideas for future research.
Key Words: espoused vs. enacted value, generic and industry-speci c climate scales, management
commitment, multi-level climate, safety climate, safety climate antecedents, safety climate consequences,
safety-climate dimensions, safety performance
Dov Zohar
1 7
Safety Climate: Conceptualization,
Measurement, and Improvement
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318  
whereby climate perceptions refer to the mean-
ing employees attach to policies, procedures, and
practices they experience and the behaviors being
expected and rewarded (Reichers & Schneider,
1990; Schneider, 1975; Weick, 1995). According
to Zohar and Hofmann (in press), climate percep-
tions di er from other organizational perceptions
in that their objective is to uncover the (implicit)
order in the organizational environment as a means
for better adapting or adjusting to that environ-
ment. Because policies, procedures, and practices
constitute the building blocks of the organizational
environment, climate perceptions as order-seeking
interpretations of the environment refer to the
nature of relationships between or the relative pri-
orities among these elements rather than to the
interpretation of individual elements in isolation.
us, safety climate relates to shared perceptions
with regard to the priority of safety policies, proce-
dures, and practices and the extent to which safety
compliant or enhancing behavior is supported and
rewarded at the workplace (Zohar, 2000).  e more
coherent and comprehensive safety policies are and
the more frequently they are communicated and
implemented during production processes, the
greater is perceived management commitment to
employee protection, constituting the core meaning
of safety climate.
Safety Climate versus Safety Culture
Although a comprehensive discussion of di er-
ences between safety climate and culture is beyond
the scope of this chapter, the fact that scholars
and practitioners alike often use both constructs
interchangeably requires a brief note. Scienti cally
speaking, such a practice threatens discriminant
validity of both constructs, especially under con-
ditions in which published measurement scales
include a mixture of items relating to both con-
structs, resulting in conceptual ambiguity. Using
the organizational climate and culture literatures
as guidelines, safety climate items should refer to
employee perceptions regarding the priority of
safety, as discussed.  e targets or referents of such
climate perceptions, according to the organizational
culture literature relate to surface-level expressions,
or artifacts of underlying, deeper-level elements
such as safety-related beliefs and values. However,
because each deep-level element can express itself by
a large number of artifacts, there is a few-to-many
mapping such that few deeper-level elements can
produce a large variety of surface-level elements.
As a result, perceptions of surface-level elements
Burke, 2009; Clarke, 2010; Nahrgang, Morgeson,
& Hofmann, 2011), indicated that safety climate is
a robust predictor of subjective and objective safety
outcomes across industries and countries. However,
scienti c progress is beset by lingering conceptual
ambiguity, evident in the fact that many authors fail
to discriminate between safety climate and culture
(Cox & Flin, 1998; Glendon, 2008), in addition to
including a host of variables that belong neither to
climate nor culture as de ned in the organizational
behavior literature.
e purpose of this chapter, therefore, is to o er
a conceptual model of safety climate that clari es its
nature, taking into account the qualifying attributes
of the organizational climate construct in general
and the facet of occupational safety in particular.
Subsequently, the chapter presents and discusses
variables in the nomological network of safety
climate, suggesting an expansion of known ante-
cedents and consequences as well as a multi-level
model specifying distinctions between organization
and group-level safety climate perceptions. Finally,
the chapter will discuss measurement implications,
including the distinction between universal and
industry-speci c climate scales, highlighting direc-
tions for future research.
e Core Meaning of Safety Climate
e original paper on safety climate de ned it
as “shared employee perceptions about the relative
importance of safe conduct in their occupational
behavior” (Zohar, 1980, p.96).  is de nition iden-
ti es safety climate as consensual or shared social
cognition regarding the relative importance or pri-
ority of safety versus productivity at the workplace.
Such socially shared perceptions inform employees
of management commitment to their safety and
health, guiding appropriate task behaviors during
work involving physical risks. Safety climate per-
ceptions emerge by sharing personal experiences
that inform employees of the extent to which man-
agement invests in their protection (as opposed to
production), leading them to develop congruent
behavior-outcome expectations and act accordingly.
Namely, safety climate informs employees about
the priority of safety during production processes
involving physical or health risks, resulting in com-
patibly adjusted role behavior. Apositive safety cli-
mate will increase the frequency of safety behavior
among employees working in hazardous environ-
ment and viceversa.
e preceding de nition follows the concep-
tual framework of organizational climate research
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 319
safety climate perceptions include any source of
individually experienced or socially shared infor-
mation about the extent of such investment. Such
information, however, is not easy to acquire or
assess because although employee protection in
physically risky work is universally espoused or
institutionalized, it competes with productivity
and pro tability considerations, requiring manage-
ment to  nd the middle ground between the two.
Institutionalization of employee protection as a
formally espoused strategic goal or organizational
value can be easily demonstrated by examining
a randomly chosen sample of company websites
(given, of course, that their employees are exposed
to physical risk). See, for example, the following
statements: “Safety  rst and always” (Schneider
National), “Safety is critical to our business per-
formance and company culture” (National Grid),
or “We are committed to conducting business in
a manner that protects and promotes the safety
and health of our employees, those involved with
our operations, and the communities where we
work” (Exxon-Mobil). By default, therefore, formal
policies and procedures in virtually all companies
exposing employees to physical risk espouse the pri-
ority of safety. Such espousals, however, are often
compromised or misaligned with actual action
because of the competing demands of production
and pro tability, as evidenced, for example, by the
mentioned abundance of safety shortcuts or cutting
down on proactive maintenance or refresher train-
ing schedules (Halbesleben, 2010). As a result, the
emergence of safety climate depends on employees
assessment of the real priority of safety, using the
misalignment between formal espousals and actual
practices as a metric for management commitment.
Challenges in Detecting Real
Management Commitment
Given possible misalignment between formal
espousals and actual practices at work, assessment of
management true or real commitment to employee
protection can be quite complex, requiring, among
other things, establishment of di erences between
formally declared policies and procedures and their
enforced or enacted counterparts (i.e., manage-
rial practices). Formal policy is explicit and stable,
relating to overt statements and formal procedures
applicable across situations, whereas enforced
policy or enacted practices are dynamic and situ-
ation dependent.  e former is publicly available
and is often communicated in written documents,
training courses, or scheduled meetings.  e latter,
cannot be used to decipher the identity of deep-level
(and subconscious) elements. By default, therefore,
using perception or attitude items in safety culture
scales, as is commonly the case, results in a logical
error. Development and validation of such a scale
(including its discriminant validity vis-à-vis safety
climate) remains a theoretical and methodologi-
cal challenge (see further discussion in Zohar &
Investment in Safety as a Discretionary
An important attribute of safety as a speci c per-
formance facet stems from the fact that work tasks
involving physical risks can be performed at dif-
ferent levels of safety; that is, safety constitutes an
independent performance dimension. Such inde-
pendence poses competing operational demands
for management and workers alike. Occupational
accident statistics such as the ones reported in the
preceding, coupled with observations indicating
abundance of safety shortcuts and workarounds
across industries and countries (Halbesleben,
2010), imply that, given small injury likelihood
during routine work, companies often choose the
path o ering lesser investment in employee pro-
tection in order to meet short-term pro tability
goals (Madsen, 2013).  e same logic holds true
for customer and/or environment protection (i.e.,
product- or environment safety). Given that produc-
tion can proceed while assuming di erent levels of
employee protection, company management must
make choices concerning the extent of investment
in nonproductive safety programs. Such programs
may require investment of signi cant resources in
employee protection, focusing on defenses such
as:installation of redundant protective equipment
in safety-critical operations; proactive mainte-
nance schedules (i.e., frequent equipment inspec-
tions and replacement); continual safety refresher
training; in-depth investigation of accidents and
near-misses; and incentives to safety performance.
Because such investments imply “non-productive
nancial expenditures, decision makers must decide
how to allocate their resources between protection-
and production-related objectives. Such a choice is
characterized by a tradeo between immediate (if
modest) “non-productive”  nancial investments
with increased, yet low-likelihood risk of a costly
accident (Madsen,2013).
Given that investment in employee protection
depends on discretionary choice by company man-
agement, it follows that the referents or targets of
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climate perceptions on behalf of company employ-
ees. Given the potentially catastrophic outcomes of
accidents stemming from human error on behalf
of mechanics, pilots or air-tra c controllers in the
aviation industry in terms of human lives, it can be
assumed that such di culties are ampli ed in other
industries in which occupational accidents are asso-
ciated with less catastrophic outcomes. A second
factor contributing to the di culty in unraveling
true management commitment concerns variabil-
ity of tradeo s between the pursuit of protection
and production goals. Given that both goal types
are being espoused as equally legitimate, situations
presenting a con ict between the two (i.e., when-
ever investment of resources in one domain under-
mines the other), require unit managers or workers
to prioritize one over the other. Because such situ-
ations may vary in terms of contextual attributes,
such choices are likely to vary. For example, whereas
the extent of (mis)alignment between safety espous-
als and enactments may remain relatively stable
under routine conditions, an increase in produc-
tion demands due to internal or external factors
may change such alignment (Humphrey, Moon,
Conlon, & Hofmann, 2004). Consequently, safety
climate perceptions must include assessments of
situational attributes under which safety com-
mitment is being compromised. Observing how
often and under which conditions organizational
and unit leaders overlook safety policies and pro-
cedures constitute an (implicit) signal informing
employees the true (vs. espoused) priority of safety.
Practically speaking, if production is favored across
a variety of situations, it implies that productivity is
prioritized over employee safety. Given such expe-
riences, employees will align their safety climate
perceptions, resulting in more frequent safety rule
violations. For example, if production delays lead
management to turn a blind eye to safety shortcuts,
yet this happens only rarely in situations involving
one particular customer or a single product of stra-
tegic importance, this will result in a smaller mis-
alignment (and higher safety climate) than having
management turn a blind eye for safety violations
under circumstances involving a variety of custom-
ers and/or products; also see chapter7 by Keyton
on issues concerning the role of communication).
is line of reasoning was tested in a study using
a series of scripts describing supervisory safety prac-
tices in the context of di erent competing demands
(Zohar & Luria, 2004). Results indicated that when
supervisors restrict safety compromises for condi-
tions involving the accomplishment of high-stake
contrariwise, must be derived from ones own or
others’ experiences and observations of senior, mid-
dle, and lower management patterns of action con-
cerning safety issues across a variety of situations.
is distinction is akin to that made by Argyris and
Schon (1996) between formally espoused theories
of action, or policies, and theories-in-use. Asimi-
lar distinction is associated with leader behavioral
integrity (Simons, 2002), referring to the alignment
between words and deeds on behalf of organiza-
tional managers.
Safety climate perceptions must assess such
misalignment because it is only policies-in-use, or
enacted policies, rather than their formal counter-
parts, that can inform employees of (true) mana-
gerial commitment and the probable consequences
of safety behavior. Considering that climate is an
emergent construct referring to shared social per-
ceptions, its emergence depends on the extent to
which management displays an internally consis-
tent pattern of action concerning safety. Climate
level would re ect the particular commitment level
exempli ed by managerial action, which may dif-
fer from formally declared policy. For example, site
managers might expect workers to bend company
safety rules, except in life-threatening situations,
whenever production falls behind schedule, despite
o cial policies to the contrary. If this is done con-
sistently, it will promote a low or poor safety cli-
mate, as described in most accident investigations
(e.g., Baker, 2007; Pate-Cornell,1990).
Misalignment between safety espousals and
enactments increases the di culty of assessing
management commitment for a number of rea-
sons. First, rather than being a stable attribute of
the workplace, the extent of misalignment is likely
to be a ected by changing  nancial considerations.
Analyzing the pro tability-safety relationship in the
aviation industry, Madsen (2013) reported a cur-
vilinear relationship indicating that, despite formal
universal espousal of safety, the extent of airline
investments in safety depends on the gap between
their current  nancial situation and their pro tabil-
ity goals. Safety investments  uctuate with aspired
pro tability such that it goes up for companies
performing well above or below pro tability goals,
reaching the lowermost level the nearer they are to
their pro tability goals. Given that pro t goals in
most companies are adjusted quarterly or semian-
nually, it follows that the gap or misalignment
between safety espousals and enactments under-
goes continual change. Such  uctuation increases
the di culty of coming up with consensual safety
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commitment to their protection (hence, safety cli-
mate level). Given the complexity of such a process,
employees must share and compare personal expe-
riences with those of other coworkers, engaging in
social symbolic interaction, a primary antecedent
of organizational climate (Schneider & Reichers,
1983; Stryker, 2008). It is to antecedents of safety
climate that we turnnext.
Antecedents of Safety Climate
As discussed, climate perceptions emerge out of
a sense-making process in which employees try and
identify the meaning or logics of action underlying
the web of formal policies and informal practices
and role expectations characterizing their place of
work (Weick, 2005). Assessment of the personal
meaning of safety policies and practices is con-
ducted in terms of perceived priorities of protection
versus production goals, focusing on situations that
inform employees of misalignment between safety
espousal and enactment. Safety climate perceptions
inform employees about the likelihood that safety
behavior will be rewarded and supported under a
variety of work conditions in which investments
in employee safety compete with those associated
with production and/or pro t. Previous literature
reviews identi ed a number of antecedents likely
to promote the emergence of organizational cli-
mate perceptions (Ostro , Kinicki, & Muhammad,
2012; Schneider, Ehrhart, & Macey, 2011; Zohar
& Hofmann, 2012).  ese antecedents, followed
by newly tested ones, are discussed in the following
using safety climate as case inpoint.
Structural Attributes of the Work
One antecedent concerns the fact that, since
structural features of organizations (i.e., ways of
doing things) can be observed or experienced by
every employee, it creates a mechanism for emer-
gence of shared climate perceptions. Namely,
despite its inherent complexity, the organizational
environment must have a functional, nonarbitrary
structure allowing adaptation to the external envi-
ronment coupled with internal stability, order and
control (Cameron & Quinn, 1999). Consequently,
organizational policies and practices are likely to
form a recognizable pattern rather than occur inde-
pendently of each other (i.e., assume a natural rather
than arbitrary order), promoting the emergence of
shared climate perceptions.
In the context of safety climate, structural fea-
tures refer to both physical and procedural attributes
goals, it resulted in higher safety climate and lower
injury rate in the 6-month period following the cli-
mate survey, by comparison with perceived safety
compromises involving a wider range of competing
demands. Similar data were reported by a number
of accident investigation committees. For example,
Bakers (2007) report of the BP Texas City re nery
explosion concluded that re nery workers widely
believed that production was a higher priority than
process safety. Workers believed that “getting the
job done by doing whatever was necessary to keep
the re nery running” (p.62) took precedence over
the companys o cial “Safety First” and “Safety Is
Number One” messages, increasing cynicism within
the re nery that resulted in a poor safety climate.
A third factor a ecting misalignment (and post-
ing challenges for the emergence of safety climate)
concerns change across the organizational hierar-
chy due to managerial discretion in implementing
organizational policies. Safety policies and proce-
dures that have been established by senior manage-
ment must be implemented or executed by unit
managers all over the organizational hierarchy.
Such a process creates a potential for discrepancy
between formal and executed policy. Policy execu-
tion is likely to be a ected by supervisory beliefs
and attitudes as well as job design, equipment reli-
ability, and social-demographic characteristics of
work units. For example, the level of work routi-
nization is likely to a ect policy versus practice
misalignment because lower routinization requires
greater discretion in policy implementation due to
the fact that procedures cannot cover all possible
situation-speci c contingencies (Hage & Aiken,
1969; Perrow, 1967). Furthermore, supervisors
who tend to underestimate injury likelihood are
likely to be more permissive of safety rule viola-
tions than those who overestimate it. Such personal
and job-design factors will result in misalignment
between formal policies and unit-level practices,
resulting in group-level climates that exceed or fall
short of the organization level climate (see subse-
quent discussion of a multi-level climate model).
In summary, given that safety constitutes an
independent performance dimension entailing
nonproductive expenditures, employees must
attend to misalignments between its espoused and
enacted expressions in order to assess management
commitment, the core meaning of safety climate.
Such assessment requires employees to try and
identify the underlying or implicit logics of mana-
gerial action across situations and organizational
levels in order to assess the actual or true level of
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of the work environment indicative of the extent of
investment in employee protection. Such attributes
represent layers of defenses, barriers and safeguards
designed to stop the accident trajectory by block-
ing hazards from damaging contact with people and
assets (Reason, 1997). Safety management systems
refer to a hierarchy of barriers starting with hazard
elimination as the most comprehensive control
method, moving down to hazard substitution, engi-
neering controls, procedural controls, and personal
protective equipment (OSHAS 18001, 2000).  is
hierarchy re ects not only a layering of hazard con-
trol methods in terms of risk management but a
gradient of investment in employee protection. For
example, hazard elimination often requires equip-
ment or raw-material replacement, entailing greater
nancial investment than the introduction of new
safety procedures or procurement of better personal
protective equipment.
Given that continuing investment in employee
protection inform employees of true (vs. espoused)
management commitment, such investments are
assumed to serve as targets or referents of safety
climate perceptions. In fact, such targets provide
a metric for assessing the extent of management
commitment such that the larger the perceived
investment in hazard control or risk management,
the higher the perceived commitment (i.e., higher
safety climate). For this reason, available safety cli-
mate scales often include items asking respondents
to rate safety-related investments as indicators of
management commitment (e.g., DeJoy, Scha er,
Wilson, Vandenberg, Butts, 2004; Neal & Gri n,
2006; Zohar, 1980; Zohar & Luria, 2005). Such
a measurement approach is akin to the study of
observable artifacts as indicators of underlying
values in organizational culture research (Schein,
2004). Additional support for such an approach is
o ered by accident investigation panels. For exam-
ple, the summary report on the BP Texas City re n-
ery explosion (Baker, 2007)indicates a poor safety
culture” (operationalized with climate items) stem-
ming from the fact that management chose to invest
in safety procedures and personal protective equip-
ment (i.e., the lower end of the risk-management
hierarchy), rather than in hazard elimination that
would have required greater investment in replac-
ing corroded pipes or conducting frequent pressure
tests of liquid storagetanks.
Symbolic Social Interaction
A second antecedent involves symbolic social
interaction. Symbolic interactionism or sense-making
is the philosophical view that meaning and reality is
socially construed, arising from cognitive exchanges
among people seeking to comprehend the underlying
logics of action in their environment (Stryker, 2008;
Weick, 1995, 2005). In other words, the meaning of
things and the interpretation of events arise from the
interplay between ones own experiences and those of
others in the same situation. During such a process,
ones perceptions are being checked and modi ed
in light of those reported by others. Symbolic inter-
action at the workplace involves comparing bits of
information and cues, discussing possible interpreta-
tions, and attempting to reach consensual interpreta-
tion of the meaning of events and practices at the
workplace. As a result of such a process, over time,
employee perceptions tend to converge, resembling
processes of newcomer socialization (Brown, 2000;
Schneider & Reichers,1983).
However, unlike the socialization process, con-
vergence of climate perceptions serves the function
of o ering social veri cation to the outcomes of the
sense-making process, given that the complexity
of the organizational environment and ambiguity
of contextual cues o er limited opportunities for
empirical veri cation (Festinger, 1954). According
to this view, the de nition of climate as socially
shared perceptions of the organizational environ-
ment is congruent with the shared-reality model
(Hardin & Higgins, 1995), postulating that subjec-
tive experiences survive as reliable and valid inter-
pretations by virtue of being reproduced in others
and accepted by them as the veridical interpretation
of the groups external world. Symbolic social inter-
action serves, thus the dual function of promoting
both the collection of experience-based perceptions
of the (implicit and complex) structure of the orga-
nizational environment and the convergence of such
perceptions as a means for their social veri cation.
As noted, prevalence of misalignment between
safety espousals and actions increases the complexity
of assessing true management commitment. Using
signal detection theory as a framework (Green &
Swets, 1966/1988), signals indicative of the true
priority of safety are embedded in noise created and
sustained by the wealth of formal communications
concerning its espoused priority. Given that the sig-
nal and noise distributions partially overlap, safety
climate perceptions must discriminate between the
two, maximizing correct identi cation (i.e., Hits)
and minimizing False Alarms (Wickens, 1992).
Such discrimination, which is functionally equiva-
lent to discriminating between espousal and enact-
ment of safety policies, poses a signi cant cognitive
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 323
for sharing and clarifying perceptions (Kozlowski &
Doherty, 1989), and o er better articulation of task
cues (Kirkpatrick & Locke, 1996).  ese features
provide group members with better information for
assessing what is prioritized, valued, and supported
under a variety of conditions, promoting the devel-
opment of shared climate perceptions; see chapter6
by Day and colleagues for more on leadership).
Most of the empirical evidence for the leader-
climate relationship has been based on safety cli-
mate research, using both leader-member exchange
(LMX) and full-range leadership theories and related
measurement scales (e.g., Barling, Loughlin, &
Kelloway, 2002; Gonzalez-Roma, Peiro, & Tordera,
2002; Hofmann & Morgeson, 2004; Hofmann,
Morgeson, & Gerras, 2003; Kozlowski & Doherty,
1989; Zohar, 2002a, 2003; Zohar & Tenne-Gazit,
2008). A meta-analysis covering 59 studies sug-
gests that the corrected correlation estimate between
leadership quality and safety climate level is 0.61,
indicating a strong relationship between the two
variables (Nahrgang, Morgeson, & Hofmann,
2008).  e strong leadership-safety climate rela-
tionship was explained as an outcome of the fact
that when work involves heightened physical risks,
increased commitment of high-LMX or transfor-
mational leaders to members’ growth and profes-
sional development extends to the protection or
prioritization of their physical welfare (Barling etal.,
2002; Gonzalez-Roma et al., 2002; Hofmann &
Morgeson, 1999; Hofmann, Morgeson, & Gerras,
2003; Zohar, 2002a, 2011; Zohar & Luria,2004).
Although the role of leadership as a climate
antecedent has been well established, there is only
limited research concerning underlying mecha-
nisms. Such mechanisms should explain how lead-
ers promote a more positive and/or stronger safety
climate. Barling and colleagues suggested that trans-
formational leaders integrate employee safety with
their proactive leadership style, promoting mem-
bers’ safety engagement, participation, and voice
over compliance-based behavior (Barling et al.,
2002). Using social-network analysis, Zohar and
Tenne-Gazit (2008) indicated that transformational
leaders promote higher density of group commu-
nication, o ering more opportunities for social
symbolic interaction that leads to emergence of a
stronger safety climate. Furthermore, transforma-
tional leaders also act as gatekeepers, maintaining
higher priority for safety issues in their work teams
or units, especially in organizations in which safety
assumes a lower priority (Zohar & Luria, 2010).
In this study, group-level safety climate in units
challenge. Given such a challenge, symbolic social
interaction o ers the advantage of expanding the
amount and quality of cognitive-interpretative
resources available to group members.  us,
whereas social symbolic interaction has been postu-
lated to a ect emergence of organizational climate
at large, it seems to play an especially important role
in safety climate emergence due to the context of
misalignment between declared and enacted invest-
ments in employee protection.
Despite the key role of symbolic social interac-
tion as antecedent of climate emergence, there is a
lingering need for supportive empirical evidence.
e emerging  eld of social network research o ers
some interesting possibilities in this regard due to
the availability of analytic techniques for measuring
social network parameters as predictors of climate
emergence. One such study indicated that density
of group communication network (i.e., frequency
of task-related exchanges among group members)
predicted safety climate strength, whereas centrality
of the communication network (i.e., skewedness of
the exchange distribution focusing on a few group
members) was inversely related to safety climate
strength (Zohar & Tenne-Gazit, 2008). Research
along these lines should be high on the agenda
of organizational and safety climate scholars (see
chapter26 by González-Romá and Peiró on issues
of strength).
Group and Organization Leadership
A third antecedent for climate emergence con-
cerns (organizational and group) leadership.  e
e ect of leadership on organizational climate has
captured scholars’ attention ever since Kurt Lewin
made the well-known proposition that “leaders cre-
ate climate” (Lewin, Lippitt, & White, 1939).  e
leadership-climate relationship can be explained as
a social learning process in which group members
repeatedly observe and exchange information with
their leader as a means for interpreting the orga-
nizational environment (Dragoni, 2005). Group
leader practices are relatively easy to observe due
to the leader’s proximity and availability, and they
routinely inform group members as to relative pri-
orities. Verbal exchanges with the leader can also
inform members regarding the kinds of behavior
that are valued and supported at the workplace
(Ashforth, 1985). High-quality relationships are
characterized by mutual trust and openness (House
& Shamir, 1993), and by the richness of verbal com-
munication between leader and members (Klauss &
Bass, 1982). Such leaders create more opportunities
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324  
characterized by such attributes increase the likeli-
hood that tools, products, or processes of ones work
will become psychologicallyowned.
Psychological work ownership has been shown to
result in role-enhancing outcomes such as increased
role responsibility and accountability, extra-role or
citizenship behaviors (helping and voice), organi-
zational commitment, and protective or defensive
behaviors toward owned possessions (Avey, Avolio,
Crossley, & Luthans, 2009; O’Driscoll etal., 2006;
Pierce etal., 2009). Based on social exchange the-
ory (Blau, 1964; Cropanzano & Mitchell, 2005),
such role behaviors are likely to be reciprocated by
organizational support for owned objects, includ-
ing its protection and augmentation. In work envi-
ronments characterized by physical risk and work
hazards, such reciprocity will include protection of
owned objects from damage incurred by such risks
(Brown etal., 2005). Given that perceived manage-
rial commitment to employee safety constitutes the
core meaning of safety climate, such reciprocity is
likely to result in positive safety climate.
In addition to promoting managerial commit-
ment, work ownership is also likely to promote safety
climate emergence by means of object-protective
behaviors on behalf of individual coworkers. As
noted by Belk (1988), because owned possessions are
considered parts of the self, its conservation o ers a
means for defending the self against harm or diminu-
tion. When object-protective behaviors are common
in a work team, the perceived priority of safety prac-
tices during job performance will be shared among
team members. Such sharing should simplify social
symbolic interaction and sense-making processes
among team members, constituting, as noted, key
climate antecedents (Schneider & Reichers, 1983).
Recent studies conducted in a number of industries
by Zohar and colleagues o ered empirical support
for this line of arguments (Zohar & Faraj, 2011;
Zohar, Huang, Robertson, & Lee, 2011).  ese
studies indicated that work ownership is strongly
related to safety climate, o ering both main e ects
and acting as mediator of high-LMX leadership.
Altogether, therefore, given organizational contexts
promoting development of work ownership, it will
serve as an additional antecedent for safety climate
emergence. Figure 17.1 presents a description of
safety climate antecedents and its consequences, to
be discussednext.
Consequences of Safety Climate
Safety climate as a facet-speci c construct is
expected to predict congruent outcomes, that is,
managed by transformational leaders was both
higher and stronger than the organization-level cli-
mate under conditions in which the organization
climate was low or weak, indicating that transfor-
mational leaders o er better protection to mem-
bers than warranted by company-level policies and
practices. An additional study by Clarke and Ward
(2006) indicated that the leadership-safety climate
relationship was mediated by three in uence tactics
signifying high-quality exchanges, that is, persua-
sion (vs. obedience), inspirational appeals and con-
sultation or participation. Given the robustness of
the leadership-climate relationship, further research
into explanatory variables and underlying mecha-
nisms associated with this relationship is warranted.
Psychological Work Ownership
e nal safety climate antecedent is based on
research about psychological work ownership,
which is based on the postulate that an individual’s
self is perceived as the sum of his or her possessions,
consisting of whatever is being viewed as belonging
to oneself (legally or psychologically). Owned pos-
sessions o er the means for knowing who we are
(Epstein, 1973; James, 1890; Marsh, 2006). Work
ownership was thus de ned as an occupational
condition in which one feels as though an aspect
of ones work has become part, or extension of the
self, that is, becoming “mine” or “ours” (Belk, 1988;
Pierce, Kostova, & Dirks, 2001, 2003). In which
case, one might come to (psychologically) own
tools or equipment, work processes or products,
or an organizational entity (e.g., “ is workstation
is mine”; “Being an expert mechanic has become
who Iam.”). Given that work has become part of
ones (professional) self, employees are likely to act
in ways leading coworkers and managers to protect
or defend their owned possessions, stimulating the
emergence of safety climate.
Research on work ownership has followed
McClellands control proposition (1951), whereby
the ability to exercise control over valuable external
objects is a necessary condition for turning them into
parts of one’s self. Aseries of studies by Pierce and
colleagues identi ed a number of work characteris-
tics a ecting control over valuable objects at work,
that is, low routinization, high autonomy, and par-
ticipation and voice (O’Driscoll, Pierce, & Coghlan,
2006; Pierce etal., 2001, 2003; Van Dyne & Pierce,
2004). Other relevant work characteristics include
task meaningfulness or signi cance, skill variety,
and task feedback (O’Driscoll etal., 2006; Pierce,
Jussila, & Cummings, 2009). Work environments
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 325
recognition or support for safety performance
is high enough and the valence or reward value
of such outcomes is large enough to exceed the
expected costs associated with such behavior (e.g.,
slower speed, greater e ort, lesser comfort).  is is
a rational choice model based on payo maximiza-
tion, highlighting the functional or adaptive value
of organizational climate. Such a model explicates
that employees, acting as individuals or members in
larger organizational units, engage in sense-making
activities in order to uncover the underlying or
implicit payo matrices for di erent role behav-
iors, letting them choose role behaviors associated
with more positive outcomes or better bene ts.
Safety climate demonstrates, therefore, that social
construction of reality, resulting in the emergence
of any facet-speci c organizational climate, has a
functional value, enhancing employee adjustment
to complex environments characterizing work
In addition to explaining the safety climate–
behavior relationship in expectancy theory terms,
using extrinsic safety motivation as a climate-driven
mediator variable, a second mediator variable, safety
knowledge has been used to explain this relation-
ship (Gri n & Neal, 2000; Neal & Gri n, 2004,
2006).  e addition of this variable is based on a
generic model of job performance, identifying
three determinants: knowledge, skill, and motiva-
tion (Campbell, McCloy, Oppler, & Sager, 1993).
Safety performance, therefore, must be a ected by
knowledge and skills required for executing the
requisite actions and by (intrinsic and/or extrin-
sic) motivation to perform such actions despite
the extra, nonproductive costs they incur. Safety
climate, indicative of the perceived prioritization
safety performance and occupational accidents
resulting in bodily injury and/or property or envi-
ronmental damages. Because routine task perfor-
mance can be accomplished at di erent levels of
safety, safety behavior must be motivated by intrin-
sic or extrinsic factors. Person-related, or intrinsic
factors that have been shown in recent meta-analytic
studies to a ect safety behavior include personality
dispositions such as conscientiousness (Christian
et al., 2009) and agreeableness (Clarke, 2006),
organizational commitment and job satisfaction
(Clarke, 2010), and occupational stress and burn-
out (Nahrgang et al., 2011). Path models tested
by the preceding group of meta-analytic studies
indicated, however, that safety climate perceptions,
relating to extrinsic or contextual factors, o ered
signi cantly stronger prediction of safety behav-
ior and subsequent accidents. Furthermore, other
person-related factors that have long been assumed
to predict safety behavior, such as fatalistic safety
beliefs and attitudes (e.g., “Accidents will hap-
pen no matter what Ido”; see Williamson, Feyer,
Cairns, & Biancotti, 1997), failed to be supported
in meta-analytic path models.
Safety climate perceptions, as noted, inform
employees of the real priority of safety at the work-
place, that is, the extent to which safe performance
is going to be supported and rewarded in the con-
text of competing demands such as on-time product
delivery, manufacturing costs, or  nancial pro t.
Such perceptions o er an extrinsic source for safety
motivation through its e ect on behavior-outcome
expectations. Using expectancy theory as a con-
ceptual framework (Lawler, 1971; Vroom, 1964),
this explanation implies that positive safety climate
perceptions indicate that the likelihood for getting
Antecedent variables:
* Structural attributes
* Symbolic interaction
* Group/Org. leadership
* Psych work ownership
* Org. commitment
* Job stress & burnout
* Personality: C & A
Org. & Group
safety climate
Near misses
g factor: Org.
Figure17.1 Conceptual model of safety climate with antecedent and outcome variables (see explanations intext).
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326  
involvement, experiencing a sense of personal sig-
ni cance and pride. Absorption, the third compo-
nent, implies being engrossed in ones work (i.e.,
nding it hard to detach oneself fromwork).
According to this idea, a positive safety climate,
indicating managerial commitment and higher
priority of employee protection over competing
demands such as delivery timeliness or produc-
tion costs, is likely to be reciprocated by employ-
ees, leading to engagement and role enhancing
behaviors extending beyond safety performance,
bene ting the organization at large. Some support-
ive evidence for such a relationship was reported
in a recent meta-analysis of 113 studies indicating
that safety climate a ects a number of generic (i.e.,
nonsafety) outcomes such as organizational com-
mitment and citizenship behavior (Clarke, 2010).
is meta-analysis expands previous research  nd-
ings focusing on proactive safety-speci c outcomes
of safety climate such as safety citizenship behav-
ior (Hofmann etal., 2003), suggesting that safety
climate outcomes may also include generic (i.e.,
nonsafety) facets such as organizational commit-
ment and citizenship. Given that employee engage-
ment leads, among other things, to the very same
outcomes (Macey & Schneider, 2008), indicating
semantic proximity, it can be argued that safety
climate promotes or increases work-related vigor
and dedication, the primary markers of employee
engagement.  e safety climate-engagement rela-
tionship was tested and supported recently by Zohar
and colleagues (Zohar etal., 2011), using a sample
of long-haul truck drivers. In this study, employee
engagement o ered partial mediation of the safety
climate–behavior relationship which predicted, in
turn, days lost because of road injury measured
6 months after climate survey delivery. Such data
indicate that, in the context of performing com-
plex, little routinized tasks involving physical risks,
work-engaged employees perform their work more
safely not only by practicing safety compliance but
also by engaging in proactive safety behavior by
being more physically energized, cognitively vigi-
lant, and emotionally involved (Simpson, 2009),
resulting in fewer near-misses and actual accidents.
A Multi-level Model of Safety Climate
A crucial proposition of the multi-level paradigm
for organizational research states that organizational
processes take place simultaneously across di erent
levels of the organizational hierarchy such that pro-
cesses at one hierarchical level have an impact on
other levels (House, Rousseau, &  omas-Hunt,
of this facet, has been assumed to promote safety
knowledge and skills based on the idea that the
more prioritized performance aspects at work are
likely to be better monitored by supervisory person-
nel, leading employees to invest in skill acquisition
as a means for performance improvement. In other
words, because (safety) performance improvement
depends on acquisition of relevant knowledge and
skills, safety climate level will a ect e orts invested
in their acquisition. Safety knowledge and skills can
be mapped on a continuum extending from aware-
ness of simple safety rules and regulations to more
re ned, discretion-based actions in complex situa-
tions, indicative of increasing professional expertise
(Crandall, Klein, & Hofman, 2006; Lipshitz, Klein,
& Orasanu, 2001; Shattuck & Miller,2006).
As noted, recent meta-analyses support the
robustness of the safety climate-outcome rela-
tionships across industries and countries (Beus
etal., 2010; Christian etal., 2009; Clarke, 2010;
Nahrgang etal., 2011). At the same time it should
be noted that these meta-analyses vary in terms
of speci c mediation paths, reporting either a full
mediation path (i.e., safety climate to safety knowl-
edge and motivation to safety behavior to injury,
see Christian etal., 2009), a partially mediated path
in which safety climate is related to injury both
directly and indirectly through its e ect on safety
behavior (Clarke, 2010), or a nonmediated path
leading directly from safety climate to injury out-
comes (Nahrgang etal.,2011).
An additional outcome variable, identi ed as
employee engagement, was recently suggested and
tested by Zohar and colleagues (2011). Employee
engagement is a generic, rather than safety-speci c
variable referring to the nature of relationship
between employees and their work. As such, it
expands the range of organizational outcome vari-
ables accounted for by safety climate. Engagement
denotes a cluster of attributes covering personal
commitment, passion about work, discretion-
ary e ort to overcome di culty, and ampli ed
energy investment (Macey & Schneider, 2008;
Simpson, 2009; see also chapter 21 by Albrecht
for an in-depth look at engagement). A widely
used operational de nition identi es it as a posi-
tive work-related state of mind that is character-
ized by (physical and mental) vigor, dedication, and
absorption (Schaufeli, Bakker, & Salanova, 2006;
Schaufeli, Salanova, Gonzalez-Roma, & Bakker,
2002). Vigor implies (discretionary) e ort invest-
ment and persistence in goal pursuit even in the
face of di culty. Dedication implies strong work
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 327
amount of (usually modest) resources under super-
visory discretion and those requiring senior man-
agement approval. For example, replacing corroded
pipes or sending an employee to o site training usu-
ally requires senior management approval, whereas
putting clamps on certain corroded pipes or pick-
ing out the speci c individuals to be sent for o -
site training are generally perceived as being under
supervisory discretion.
Fourth, perceived di erences between organiza-
tional subunits can inform the distinction between
organization and group level climate perceptions.
Uniformity or consistency of practices across dif-
ferent subunits is indicative of organization-level
policies and vice versa. Between-unit di erences can
be detected through social comparison and social
symbolic interaction among employees belonging
to di erent subunits. For example, by social com-
parison, members of one subunit may conclude
that their immediate superior is much more lenient
regarding safety shortcuts or protective gear usage
than other superiors.
According to the multi-level framework, level
of analysis is assumed to simultaneously de ne the
unit of aggregation and the target or referent of cli-
mate perceptions (Chan, 1998). At the organization
level, climate perceptions are aggregated across the
company and senior management commitment to
employee protection or company-level emphasis on
safety is the referent object. At the group level, per-
ceptions are aggregated within subunits, and super-
visory emphasis on member safety and health is the
primary referent object. By adjusting the referent of
perceptions and assuming that individuals discrimi-
nate between procedural and supervisory emphasis
on safety, a theoretical framework for a multi-level
climate model is established.
e multi-level climate model was tested in a
study using a safety climate questionnaire divided
into organization and group-level subscales (Zohar
& Luria, 2005).  e study included 401 work-
groups nested in 36 manufacturing companies
across a number of industries. Study methodol-
ogy included the climate survey delivery followed
by seven randomly timed safety-behavior observa-
tions conducted 3 months after survey delivery.
Results indicated that organization- and group-level
safety climates are globally aligned, and the e ect
of organization climate on safety behavior is fully
mediated by group-climate level. However, the data
also revealed considerable group-level variation in
a single organization, attributable to supervisory
discretion in implementing formal procedures.
1995; Kozlowski & Klein, 2000; Patterson, Payne,
& West, 1996). Cross-level e ects are assumed to
take place as a result of employee interdependence
and the need to balance hierarchical exchanges
between individuals and/or work groups at di erent
organizational levels (Katz & Kahn, 1978; March &
Simon, 1959). Given the wealth of empirical sup-
port for cross-level processes, the construct of orga-
nizational climate must also be conceptualized and
investigated at multiple levels of analysis.
Attempting to introduce a multi-level frame-
work in organizational climate research in general
and safety climate in particular, Zohar and col-
leagues (Zohar, 2000; Zohar & Luria, 2005)o ered
a number of propositions based on the idea that
employees examine their work environment from
the dual perspectives of being members both of
an organization and of a particular subunit in that
organization.  e rst proposition states that poli-
cies and procedures that are established at the orga-
nization level must be implemented or executed
by unit managers throughout the organizational
hierarchy.  at is, although top managers are con-
cerned with policy making and the establishment of
procedures to facilitate policy implementation, unit
managers execute these policies and associated pro-
cedures through interaction with subordinates.  is
creates a potential for discrepancy or misalignment
between formal and executed policy as discussed in
previous sections of this chapter.
Second, policy execution is assumed to be
a ected by group-level factors such as work rou-
tinization (i.e., low routinization requires greater
discretion in policy implementation because proce-
dures cannot cover all possible situations), members
professional expertise, equipment dependability,
personnel availability in safety-critical roles, and
supervisory preoccupation with process failures
and member protection. Between-group di erences
relating to di erent ways of implementing company
(safety) policies and procedures are, therefore, to be
expected in a single organization. For example, unit
supervisors may set lenient or severe safety standards
within the boundaries set by top management.
ird, it is assumed that individual employees
discriminate between procedures instituted by top
management and those executed by unit manag-
ers, facilitated by three main sources of infor-
mation.  e  rst is the scope or magnitude of
nancial resources that must be invested for policy
or procedure implementation. Based on a variety
of information sources, including leader-member
exchanges, employees can di erentiate between the
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328  
indicative of general ability to deal with cognitive
complexity (Gottfredson, 1997). Such an approach
has received considerable empirical support from
recent meta-analyses that have used single safety cli-
mate scores to test its relationship with antecedent
and outcome variables (Beus etal., 2010; Christian
etal., 2009; Clarke, 2010; Nahrgang etal.,2011).
e latter approach was exempli ed in a
study that tested psychometric properties of the
group-level subscale in Zohar and Lurias (2005)
multi-level safety climate scale (Johnson, 2007).
Using a sample of nearly 300 employees working
in 20 heavy manufacturing companies, Johnson
replicated Zohar and Lurias three-factor struc-
ture, labeled as: Compliance (Active safety prac-
tices:Monitoring-Controlling), Caring (Declarative
safety practices:Declaring-Informing), and Coaching
(Proactive safety practices: Instructing-Guiding).
(Note that parentheses include Zohar & Lurias
original factor titles.) Furthermore, Johnson rep-
licated also the strong correlations among factors,
exceeding 0.95, resulting in a single higher-order
factor representing management commitment.
is single climate score predicted safety behavior,
obtained from repeated observations conducted
by safety professionals over a 5-month period after
completion of the climate survey. Safe behavior,
in turn, predicted objective injury (frequency and
severity) data based on OSHA records.  ese results
are presented in Figure 17.2.  is study demon-
strates that whereas the (instable) factorial structure
of safety climate can serve for o ering feedback
to participating companies wishing to learn about
their safety climate (and culture), safety climate
research can proceed based on the assumption that
perceived management commitment, represented
by the higher-order factor, can serve as a valid met-
ric for research purposes.
Universal versus Industry-Speci c
Safety Climates
Provided that the core meaning of safety climate
concerns perceived management commitment to
employee protection, measurement of such percep-
tions requires a choice between two scale-development
strategies. One strategy uses universal or generic
questionnaire items, asking respondents to assess
management commitment based on their cumula-
tive experience at work. Scale items involve in this
case context-free summary perceptions or assess-
ments of the extent of such commitment. For
example, a widely used safety climate scale includes
items such as:Managers try to reduce risk levels as
Variables that limit supervisory discretion (i.e.,
organization-climate strength and procedural
formalization) reduced both between-group cli-
mate variation and within-group variability (i.e.,
increased group-climate strength), although e ect
sizes were smaller than those associated with
cross-level climate relationships. Considering the
potential bene ts o ered by adopting a multi-level
framework, the paucity of climate studies using
such a framework should call the attention of cli-
mate scholars to such research.
Dimensionality of Safety Climate
Ever since the publication of the original safety
climate scale (Zohar, 1980), researchers have tried
to establish the dimensionality of this variable. Most
researchers concurred with a multi-dimensional
description, yet there has been limited agreement on
the number and nature of dimensions. Exploratory
factor analysis of Zohars original 40 item question-
naire resulted in an eight-factor structure (Zohar,
1980). A follow-up study resulted, however, in a
three factor structure comprising of perceived man-
agement commitment, management action, and
physical risk (Brown & Holmes, 1986). A repli-
cation of the latter study resulted in a two-factor
structure comprising of perceived management
commitment and perceived worker involvement
in safety (Dedobbeleer & Beland, 1991). Still
another replication study tested the original Zohar
scale, using Con rmatory factor analysis (Mueller,
DaSilva, Townsend, & Tetrick, 1999).  is study
reported a four-factor model resembling Zohars
model, consisting of the following factors:manage-
ment commitment, rewarding of safety behavior,
e ect of required work pace on safety, and e ect of
safe behavior on social status.
Despite apparent instability of factorial struc-
ture, reviews of safety climate measurement
research concluded that the various measurement
scales share a common focus relating to perceived
management commitment to employee safety and
health (Flin, Mearns, O’Connor, & Bryden, 2000;
Kuenzi & Schminke, 2009). Furthermore, given
strong correlations between  rst-order factors, an
increasing number of scholars have started to use
a single higher-order factor for measuring manage-
ment commitment, simplifying the study of safety
climate in statistical models that include some addi-
tional variables (e.g., Hofmann & Stetzer, 1996;
Neal, Gri n, & Hart, 2000; Wallace & Chen,
2006). Conceptually, the higher-order climate fac-
tor is akin to the general intelligence factor (“g”),
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 329
trained and meet stringent certi cation standards;
Maintenance management encourages aircraft
mechanics to work by the book; Short cuts are
accepted practice when the  ight schedule demands
call for them; and Company management puts
safety at the same level of importance as operational
planning. Finally, a third example includes a safety
climate scale developed for the trucking industry
(Huang, Zohar, Robertson, & Lee, 2012). Relevant
scale items include the following:Company man-
agement cares more about on-time delivery than
my safety; Management turns a blind eye when a
dispatcher bends some safety rules; My supervisor
gives me the freedom to change my schedule when
Isee safety problems; and My supervisor pushes me
to keep driving even when Icall in to say Ifeel too
sick ortired.
Universal safety climate scales allow comparisons
between industries and countries as well as aggrega-
tion of data for meta-analytic or longitudinal stud-
ies. Industry-speci c scales, on the other hand, allow
creation of industry-speci c norms and benchmarks
and provision of rich feedback to participating com-
panies because of their context-rich information.
Whereas universal scales o er advantages associated
with having large standardized databases as well as
conceptual parsimony, industry-speci c scales o er
the advantage of collecting rich diagnostic infor-
mation, uncovering also the nature of (implicit)
cues and the kinds of information employees use
in assessing management commitment. Considered
much as possible; Management acts decisively to
correct safety issues; Management turn a blind eye
to safety issues (R); Workers do not receive praise
for working safely (R); and Management considers
the safety of employees of great importance (Cox &
A second strategy incorporates items embedded
in speci c contexts, turning the measurement scales
into industry-speci c climate scales. In this case,
scale development requires a preliminary stage, con-
ducting observations and interviews with front-line
workers, managers, and industry experts.  e pur-
pose of such observations and interviews is to iden-
tify the kind of environmental cues most employees
attend to in order to assess management commit-
ment, using protection-related resource investment
as relevant metric. One example is a safety climate
scale developed for the health care industry (Singer,
Meterko, Baker, Gaba, Falwell, & Rosen, 2007).
Scale items include statements such as:Senior man-
agement has a good idea of the kinds of mistakes
that actually occur in this facility; My supervisor
overlooks patient safety problems that happen over
and over;  ings “fall between the cracks” when
transferring patients from one unit to another; and
Shift changes are problematic for patients in this
A second example includes a safety climate scale
developed for the aviation industry (Ciavarelli,
2003). Industry-speci c items include the fol-
lowing: All of our aircraft mechanics are well
= 1.000*
= –0.462*
Figure17.2 Factorial structure of safety climate.
Notes:LWDCR, injury severity; TCIR, injury frequency. Reprinted from Johnson, S.E. (2007).  e predictive validity of safety
climate. Journal of Safety Research, 38 , 511–521, with permission from Elsevier.
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330  
An exception to the preceding concerns a study
of the e ect of conducting after-action reviews
on safety climate in 352  re ghting crews (Allen,
Baran, & Scott, 2010). After-action reviews include
informal discussion of safety-related behaviors and
errors, taking place soon after returning to the
re station. During such reviews,  re ghters and
supervisors explicate their views and prioritiza-
tion of safety behavior, informing crew members
the priority of safety under a variety of hazardous
re- ghting scenarios.  e frequency of conducting
after-action reviews was shown to predict safety cli-
mate level, yet its e ect disappeared for the busiest
re stations. Such a moderation e ect was appar-
ently due to the fact that crew members in the
highly busy stations interpreted their situation as
indication of management unwillingness to invest
in their safety by increasing the number of  re sta-
tions and personnel to relieve their workload.
A series of studies by Zohar and colleagues, con-
ducted in a number of industries and countries,
o ers another exception to the lamented paucity
of climate intervention studies (Kines, Andersen,
Spangenberg, Mikkelsen, Dyreborg, & Zohar,
2010; Zohar, 2002b; Zohar & Luria, 2003; Zohar
& Stuewe, 2005).  ese studies were conducted at
the group level of analysis, using a system for ran-
dom sampling of daily informal leader-member
verbal exchanges and o ering individual feedback
to group leaders regarding the extent of inclusion
of safety or protection messages by comparison
with production messages. Studies used a pre- and
post-intervention methodology coupled with com-
parison between experimental and control groups.
Overall, despite some variation between studies,
the data indicated that inclusion of safety messages
during informal or daily leader-member exchanges
co-varied with increased frequency of workers
observed safety behavior. Safety climate levels, mea-
sured before and after intervention revealed signi -
cant improvement, accompanied by reduction in
subsequent occupational injury data. Such results
support the current popularity of safety climate/
culture as explanatory mechanism for safety man-
agement programs, highlighting the need for con-
tinued investment in conducting intervention or
action research.
Much of the e ort during 30 years of safety
climate research has been focused on two issues
or topics, that is, safety climate measurement and
climate-outcome relationships. Although scholars
as such, both strategies serve complementary goals,
such that their choice should depend on the objec-
tives of climate measurement.
A crucial question in this regard concerns pre-
dictive validity. In other words, which scale type
o er better prediction of occupational accidents?
Arecent study tested this question in a sample of
truck drivers by comparing a validated universal
scale with a new industry-speci c scale developed
for the trucking industry (Huang et al., 2012).
e safety climate scale used in this study included
universal and trucking-speci c items that were ran-
domly mixed. Six months after survey delivery, traf-
c injury data were collected over a period of the
next 6months, complementing a safe-driving scale
completed during survey delivery. Predictive validity
was tested by comparing e ect sizes for the univer-
sal versus trucking-speci c items. Results indicated
that although both item categories o ered signi -
cant prediction of the safe-driving scale and subse-
quent injury data, e ect size of the trucking-speci c
items was double that of the universal items for both
outcome variables (i.e., increasing R
from 0.10 to
0.20). Such data support continued use of both cli-
mate scale categories.
Safety Climate Improvement
Despite increasing popularity of safety climate
research there is a paucity of studies testing inter-
vention strategies designed at climate improvement.
By contrast, the practitioner literature abounds with
case studies focusing on safety leadership and safety
climate/culture development and improvement. For
example, a book published by Krause (2005), chair-
man of a global safety consulting company, outlines
a series of intervention strategies designed to develop
safety leadership and improve safety climate in a
range of organizations, industries, and countries.
Following the maxim that leaders create (safety)
climate/culture, intervention strategies include
a mix of techniques such as executive coaching,
leadership development workshops, identi cation
of safety-critical behaviors (safety communication,
teamwork, management credibility), development
of action plans aimed at reducing the gap between
current and desired levels of safety critical behav-
iors, safety behavior observations, and (personal and
unit-level) feedback processes. Although the book
o ers corroborative empirical evidence, the fact is
that (to the best of the author’s knowledge) none
of the projects has been published in scienti c jour-
nals, attesting methodological adequacy and/or sci-
enti c validity.
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 331
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tude of published safety climate scales (Flin etal.,
2000; Guldenmund, 2010), it seems that common
agreement has emerged regarding the core mean-
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climates such as internal  exibility (MacCormick
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which organizational climate in uences role behav-
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at operationalizing both in order to collect empiri-
cal evidence regarding the nature of their relation-
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ambiguity in this  eld of research, o ering also
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... Safety literature proposes that leaders often focus on producing more and new products and services, and only subsequently focus on safety (Janssens, Brett & Smith, 1995;Wallace, Chen & Kanfer, 2005;Zohar, 2000). Even though several organisations promote safety in formal policies and strategies, it is often creation rather than safety that is emphasised in daily work activities (Zohar, 2003). As Pate-Cornell (1990) argues, job estimation procedures emphasise creation over safety, and leaders stress creation over performance safety, which is the fundamental element responsible for poor safety records. ...
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Most research has explored ambidexterity at the organisational level and very limited research is available on individual ambidextrous behaviours. This research paper reviews the role of leaders’ regulatory focus in promoting individual ambidexterity in the form of creativity and safety. The main aim is to contribute to ambidexterity and self-regulatory literature by examining the role of leaders’ regulatory focus in managing ambidextrous behaviours. Ambidexterity is the ability to manage conflicting task demands, which poses a fundamental self-regulatory and motivational challenge in the process of pursuing different goals.
... The SC concept was first proposed and defined by Zohar (1980) as "a unified understanding of organizational security" and "reflects the consensus of employees on the relative importance of safe behaviors. In addition, "SC is related to a common understanding of safety policies, procedures and practices" (Zohar, 2003). ...
Conference Paper
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Although the construction industry is known for its significant contribution to the global workforce, it is equipped with a large number of accidents cannot be ignored. Various studies have tried to determine the impact of safety climate (SC) on labor safety behavior (SB), but the relationship between SC and labor SB has not yet been concluded. This study therefore reviews related research on SC and SB in an attempt to clarify the relationship between the two. Research findings could be summarized as follows: (1) The relationship between SC and SB is different in various industries. For example, there is no significant relationship between SC and SB in the manufacturing industry, but it is not the case in the construction industry; (2) SC and SB can be divided into multiple dimensions; however, each individual dimension of SC and SB both have their own relationship, which means that the specific relationship of each individual dimension between the two is worthy of further exploration; (3) SC can predict SB, but limited studies explores the predictive relationship between SC and SB. Nor of study investigate the predictive ability of SC and SB. Thus, how to use the SC to predict SB is an important topic to be realized.
... Since organizations define different objectives for themselves and choose various methods to achieve them, the senior management should introduce policies and procedures while taking into account each of these factors, including customer services, the quality of products, and safety measures. The related policies should be clearly defined and highly emphasized so that the employees could arrive at a consensus regarding these factors (multi-fold climatic results) (Zohar 2003;Huang and Hinze 2006). Since the customer's perspective and performance of construction projects has a significant impact on the safety of the project, the customer's role is stated in Table 1. ...
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Despite recent advances in technology and the enforcement of occupational health standards and safety measures, construction projects, especially the steel plants construction projects, still pose construction workers to multiple risks and accidents given the high volume of workload and fast rate of tasks delivery. According to the recent reports, the construction industry has the highest rate of accidents among other industries, which are the most serious in terms of the severity of damages. The safety climate acts as a reference framework for personnel to perceive the safety measures in the workplace and make their behavior compatible with them. Despite numerous studies performed on safety climate, few efforts have been made to investigate the formation of safety climate. To identify safety climate indexes, a descriptive-analytical study was conducted based on the previous studies and their findings and the results were performed to form a safety climate and then the safety atmosphere was studied among the employees of a steel project. For this purpose, a questionnaire consisting of 43 questions with the 7-point Likert scale was developed.
... Equally, other energy resources, such as time, money, and social capital, are characteristically consumed when invested. In contrast, more ʺstructuralʺ Zohar (2003) energy resources such as knowledge and information are generally retained despite their investment. Overall, energy resources have scarcely been studied (Hobfoll, 1989;Madden et al., 2017). ...
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This paper provides background information about the underpinning theory of the model of job demands-resources model (JD-R model), which is the conservation of resources theory. The Conservation of resources (COR) theory became highly popular among researchers. Conservation of resources (COR) theory postulates the link between job demands-resources, personal resources, organizational commitment, work engagement, turnover intentions, and job performance. This paper discusses COR theory, which is the main theory that underpins the present research. This paper reviews the assumptions and development of the theory and presents an overview of important findings obtained with the theory and its association with JD-R model. The paper concludes with an agenda for future research and a brief discussion of the practical application of the theory in JD-R model.
... 心 理 科 学 进 展 第 31 卷 全氛围(safety climate)是被研究最多的关键角色 (Beus et al., 2016;Luria, 2019;Zohar & Polachek, 2014)。安全氛围是指员工对组织安全政策、流程 和实践惯例的共享知觉 (Zohar, 2003)。 从该构念首 次被提出至今 (Zohar, 1980) (Salancik & Pfeffer, 1978), 包括两个关 氛围 (Zohar, 2008;Zohar, 2010)。团队成员随后会 (French & Raven, 1959;Thompson, 1967) 作用 (Singer & Tucker, 2014;Thomas et al., 2005) (Bandura, 1977(Bandura, , 1986 (Berscheid et al., 1976;Shamir, 1995 ...
... Conversely, fragmented and negative perceptions indicate a 'weak' safety culture, and an increased susceptibility to accidents (Clarke, 2000;Guldenmund, 2000;Health and Safety Commission, 1993;Singer et al., 2009). Indeed, safety culture is often referred to as a leading indicator (Choudhry et al., 2007;Xu et al., 2021) or a distal antecedent of safety (Beus et al., 2016), where safety culture has an indirect effect on accidents/injuries via safety-related behaviours (Zohar, 2003). ...
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There is considerable overlap between the concepts of culture and social identity. Here, in the context of organisational safety culture, we investigate the extent to which social identity processes can inform our understanding of organisational culture on safety citizenship behaviour. We test this relationship via two different social identity processes: (1) individuals’ organisational identity (a classically individual-level conceptualisation of social identity); and (2) individuals’ perceptions of others’ organisational identities (meta-identity; a social identity framing of culture). Safety culture survey data from 1,427 air traffic workers were analyses using a simple holdout cross-validation approach for model testing. We find that both identity processes mediate the link between safety culture and safety behaviour. The data also demonstrate that the strength of indirect effect of safety culture on safety citizenship via meta-identity is stronger with increasing levels of organisational identity. Moving forward, safety culture research and interventions may benefit from taking a social identity lens to understanding their culture (e.g. developing identity for safety and safe practice), which has implications for safety behaviour. Consideration of meta-identity has implications for behaviour change initiatives, as individuals who perceive strong group commitment in other group members may be more influenced by interventions that leverage group norms.
... This research can have tangible consequences in lives saved for the remainder of the COVID-19 pandemic, future health crises, and even "normal" contagion events such as the annual flu season. Neal and Griffin (2004) propose a theoretical framework, drawn from decades of research on safety behaviors and job performance (e.g., Barling et al., 2002;Borman & Motowidlo, 1993;Campbell et al., 1993;Griffin & Neal, 2000;Zohar, 2003), for understanding and predicting employees' safety performance. Modeled after job performance, safety performance is conceptualized as employees' safety compliance (i.e., core behaviors employees are expected to engage in to maintain workplace safety, such as hand washing and social distancing) and safety participation (i.e., additional behaviors that support a strong safetyoriented environment, such as encouraging others to follow safety guidelines; Borman & Motowidlo, 1993;Griffin & Neal, 2000). ...
The COVID-19 pandemic threatened employees’ health and safety more than any event in recent years. Although millions of employees transitioned to working from home to mitigate infectious disease exposure, many worksites re-opened amid the pandemic as high infection rates persisted longer than expected. Safety guidelines were issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and other national initiatives to improve the health and safety of employees returning to on-site work. The current work addresses predictors of infection control safety behaviors in a general working population that largely lacks infection control training and expertise. Drawing from Neal and Griffin’s model of safety behavior, we investigated organizational factors (i.e., perceived safety climate, safety-related organizational constraints, occupational risk of COVID-19 exposure) and individual factors (i.e., infection control safety attitudes, conscientiousness, and risk aversion) associated with employees’ infection control safety behaviors shortly after returning to on-site work during the pandemic. Survey results from 89 full-time employees across industries demonstrated that the organizational and individual factors accounted for 51.19 percent of the variance in employees’ infection control safety behaviors. Organizational factors accounted for 49.02 percent of the explained variance, and individual factors accounted for 50.98 percent of the explained variance. Conscientiousness, perceived safety climate, safety-related organizational constraints, and infection control safety attitudes explained significant variance in employees’ infection control safety behaviors, while the occupational risk of COVID-19 exposure and risk aversion did not. Organizations may benefit from considering employees’ conscientiousness and safety attitudes during employee selection as well as enhancing their organization’s safety climate and mitigating safety-related organizational constraints.
Background Safety climate is an effective leading indicator of safety incidents and accidents. However, frequently safety climate measures are only employed in times of crisis rather than for regular monitoring to identify and remediate safety issues before becoming critical. Objective This study aimed to validate a 24-item version of the 50-item Nordic Occupational Safety Climate Questionnaire (NOSACQ-50) that was developed for use as a regular monitoring tool. Method Analyses undertaken included confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) and assessments of construct validity, external validity, concurrent validity, measurement equivalence, and benchmarking capabilities. CFA to examine external and construct validity included a combined sample of disability support workers and hospitality employees (N = 474), an independent sample of students in casual employment (N = 122), and employees from a vocational education and training (VET) organisation (N = 539). Concurrent validity was assessed by comparing correlations between the 50-item and 24-item versions of the NOSACQ with health and wellbeing outcome variables. External validity of the NOSACQ-24 was further established using the casual student workers and a sample employees from the VET organisation (N = 53). Paired samples t-tests examined the safety climate scores for the 50-item and 24-item measures across all participant samples to evaluate the benchmarking capability of the NOSACQ-24. Results The NOSACQ-24 demonstrated a comparable factor structure to the NOSACQ-50. External, construct, and concurrent validity for the NOSACQ-24 were largely supported, as were measurement equivalence and benchmarking capabilities. Conclusion Use of the NOSACQ-24 is supported, and future applications are discussed.
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As industrial systems represent a complex socio-technical system, it is necessary to analyse the impact of manager-operator-machine interaction on industrial safety, as categories of contextual factors. However, modern scientific literature indicates insufficient research on this topic. This paper has an aim to empirically analyse behavioural style and transport and mining machines operators’ attitudes in the safety climate context. Participants in this study were 28 crane’s and 65 mining machinery’s (excavators, bucket wheel excavators, bulldozers, loaders, graders, backhoe loaders, trenchers, dump trucks and scrapers) operators working in Serbian industrial companies. In the first step there is conducted descriptive statistics and followed by Kolmogorov’s and U* Mann-Whitney test to examine differences. Obtained results have shown that there were not statistically significant differences both between attitudes of operators on those two kinds of machines, namely, there are no statistically significant differences in terms of absenteeism due to poor working conditions, atmosphere of cooperation and togetherness among operators and the ways in which managers motivate and reward them. Between numbers of injuries at work happened by both machines’ types used there are no statistical differences, too. Also, further factor analysis has shown that examined operators’ and machines’ characteristics divide into two factors – one is focused to anthropometric characteristics presented by height and weight while another is focused on age of operator and machine and operator’s experience. It is recommended, in future research to enlarge sample, repeat statistical testing and analyse wider set of variables on examined matters in aim to discover pattern of anthropometric factors influence on behavioural factors.
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We review the progress of naturalistic decision making (NDM) in the decade since the first conference on the subject in 1989. After setting out a brief history of NDM we identify its essential characteristics and consider five of its main contributions: recognition-primed decisions, coping with uncertainty, team decision making, decision errors, and methodology. NDM helped identify important areas of inquiry previously neglected (e.g. the use of expertise in sizing up situations and generating options), it introduced new models, conceptualizations, and methods, and recruited applied investigators into the field. Above all, NDM contributed a new perspective on how decisions (broadly defined as committing oneself to a certain course of action) are made. NDM still faces significant challenges, including improvement of the quantity and rigor of its empirical research, and confirming the validity of its prescriptive models. Copyright © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
People develop feelings of ownership for a variety of objects, material and immaterial in nature. We refer to this state as psychological ownership. Building on and extending previous scholarship, the authors offer a conceptual examination of this construct. After defining psychological ownership, they address "why" it exists and "how" it comes into being. They propose that this state finds its roots in a set of intraindividual motives (efficacy and effectance, self-identity, and having a place to dwell). In addition, they discuss the experiences that give rise to psychological ownership and propose several positive and negative consequences of this state. The authors' work provides a foundation for the development of a comprehensive theory of psychological ownership and the conceptual underpinnings for empirical testing.
High Reliability Organizations (HROs) have been treated as exotic outliers in mainstream organizational theory because of their unique potentials for catastrophic consequences and interactively complex technology. We argue that HROs are more central to the mainstream because they provide a unique window into organizational effectiveness under trying conditions. HROs enact a distinctive though not unique set of cognitive processes directed at proxies for failure, tendencies to simplify, sensitivity to operations, capabilities for resilience, and temptations to overstructure the system. Taken together these processes induce a state of collective mindfulness that creates a rich awareness of discriminatory detail and facilitates the discovery and correction of errors capable of escalation into catastrophe. Though distinctive, these processes are not unique since they are a dormant infrastructure for process improvement in all organizations. Analysis of HROs suggests that inertia is not indigenous to organizing, that routines are effective because of their variation, that learning may be a byproduct of mindfulness, and that garbage cans may be safer than hierarchies.
Personnel selection research provides much evidence that intelligence (g) is an important predictor of performance in training and on the job, especially in higher level work. This article provides evidence that g has pervasive utility in work settings because it is essentially the ability to deal with cognitive complexity, in particular, with complex information processing. The more complex a work task, the greater the advantages that higher g confers in performing it well. Everyday tasks, like job duties, also differ in their level of complexity. The importance of intelligence therefore differs systematically across different arenas of social life as well as economic endeavor. Data from the National Adult Literacy Survey are used to show how higher levels of cognitive ability systematically improve individual's odds of dealing successfully with the ordinary demands of modern life (such as banking, using maps and transportation schedules, reading and understanding forms, interpreting news articles). These and other data are summarized to illustrate how the advantages of higher g, even when they are small, cumulate to affect the overall life chances of individuals at different ranges of the IQ bell curve. The article concludes by suggesting ways to reduce the risks for low-IQ individuals of being left behind by an increasingly complex postindustrial economy.