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Occupational safety is important as it affects the well-being of organizational members and its visitors. This study attempts to investigate the safety awareness among staff of higher learning institutions (HLI) in the Northern part of Malaysia. The objective is to investigate the relationship between office environment, management commitment, staff's attitudes and organizational policies with safety at the workplace. The data were analyzed using correlation and multiple regressions. The findings indicate there is a significant relationship among the studied variables. The study suggests that it is vital for the management to install and promote a safety culture in the office. 1394-0384
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Favorable Working Environment
in Promoting Safety at Workplace
Ima Ilyani Ibrahim ,Sarina Muhamad Noor, Noraini Nasirun, Zulaiha Ahmad
Universiti Teknologi MARA, 02600 Arau Perlis, Malaysia
Occupational safety is important as it affects the well-being of organizational members and its visitors.
This study attempts to investigate the safety awareness among staff of higher learning institutions
(HLI) in the Northern part of Malaysia. The objective is to investigate the relationship between office
environment, management commitment, staff’s attitudes and organizational policies with safety at the
workplace. The data were analyzed using correlation and multiple regressions. The findings indicate
there is a significant relationship among the studied variables. The study suggests that it is vital for the
management to install and promote a safety culture in the office.
1394-0384 © 2013 The Authors. Published for AMER ABRA by e-International Publishing House, Ltd., UK.. This is
an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (
Peerreview under responsibility of AMER (Association of Malaysian Environment-Behaviour Researchers), ABRA
(Association of Behavioural Researchers on Asians) and cE-Bs (Centre for Environment-Behaviour Studies),
Faculty of Architecture, Planning & Surveying, UniversitiTeknologi MARA, Malaysia.
Keywords: awareness; safe workplace; commitment ; management; attitudes
Ibrahim, I.I., / Asian Journal of Environment-Behaviour Studies, ajE-Bs, 4(15) Sep./ Oct. 2013 (pp.19-27)
1. Introduction
Occupational safety and health covers both the employees and the visitors who patronize
the premises. Hence, occupational safety incorporates safe systems of work where it
requires safe premises, effective preventive maintenance, adequate heating, lighting and
ventilation, enforcement of safety rules and appropriate training to employees. In addition,
many policies passed by government require managers to provide arrangements for the
safe use of the premises and specify rules for safe system at work.
The importance of safety at work environment has been marginalized due to limited
understanding on its consequences. Organizations encounter high cost when safety
requirements are ignored. It involves losses in terms of man-made hour, production time
and productivity. Organizations not only must pay for the medical expenses incurred when
there is any accident, there are also the possibilities of facing legal actions if safety
procedures are inappropriate. Therefore, the losses due to work disruption, equipment
damage, insurance claims and workers’ compensation would eventually affect the
organization’s performance.
Scholars (Zubaidah Ismail, SamadDoostdar&ZakariaHarun; 2012) of occupational
safety and health have focused more on constructions and manufacturing premises. This is
because, their nature of work which exposes the workers and visitors to many dangerous
equipment and situations. Moreover, records of fatalities also showed that the cases are
higher for these industries (See Table 1.0). Nevertheless, other industries also
demonstrated a need for safety and health agenda. Records offatalities and death rate
cases indicate that the investigated cases forpublic organizations (government offices and
related bodies)have increasedfrom45 cases to 67 in 2010 and 2011 respectively, which
make the study of themdeems necessary. Details are shown in Table 1.0.
Table 1 : Number of fatalities and death rate cases from 2009-2011 according to industry
Industrial categories/Year
Public organization
Finance , Insurance & Real Estate
Hotel & Restaurant
Agriculture, Forestry & Fishery
Mining & Quarry
Source: Department of Occupational, Safety and Health, Malaysia.
Ibrahim, I.I., / Asian Journal of Environment-Behaviour Studies, ajE-Bs, 4(15) Sep./ Oct. 2013 (pp.19-27)
2. Literature Review
Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) is a cross-disciplinary area which is concerned with
protecting the safety, health and welfare of people patronizing any organization. The goal of
all occupational health and safety awareness programs is to foster a safe work environment
(Ahmad, 2010). A recent study proposed that healthy workplace environment provides a
platform for employees to havea quality work life (SarinaMuhamad Noor &MohdAdli
Abdullah, 2011) which leads into positive spillover effect. Moreover, Malaysian NIOSH
chairman suggested that, “OSH awareness had been identified as a pre-condition for
increased productivity”. Therefore, employers should not consider OSH as a burden to the
organization but instead as a catalyst for productivity and profitability.
Management must establish a proper platform for safety of the workers and committed
to safety programs. This shape the safety climate in the organization (Nor Azimah et
al.,2009).Moreover, conducting training programs that are tailored to the needs of the
workers would have positive effects on workers’ attitudes, work practices, and self-reported
injury rates (William et al., 2010). Similarly, another studyfound that safety training and
emergency preparedness among employees are able to increase the safety participation
among employees (Lu & Yang, 2011). Furthermore, when management is committed and
engaged in safety training program, workers’ attitude towards safety is enhanced (William et
al., 2010; Lu & Yang, 2011).
On top of that, management which provides safe workplacessuch as proper office
layout and comfort helps in improving employees’ productivity (Haynes, 2008).This benefit
the organization in the long run as the organization is perceived as safe workplace for
all.Injuries are inevitable in the workplace. Hence, policies and procedures are developed at
the national and organizational level to reduce the risks of any injuries. From time to time,
the national policies and regulations on safety and health must be improved. A longitudinal
study by Pavlic et al. (2011) in Slovenia suggested that alloccupational injuries are reported.
This providesa unified methodology of occupational injuries with quality information.This
information will assist the professionals involved in planning, implementing and controlling
the national policy and regional policies on safety and health at work (Pavlic et al., 2011;
Nor Azimah et al., 2009). Furthermore, installing injury reporting policy by organizations
also helps in promoting safety commitment. Organizations learn from incidents to develop
safety policies and designing a better workplace for employees. The information derived
from these incidents provides vital information for organization's safety policy.
In Malaysia, workers are being protected from risks coming from workplace by two Acts,
namely Factory and Machinery 1967 (FMA 1967) and Occupational Safety and Health Act
1994 (OSHA 1994) (DOSH, 2012). Furthermore, regulations, guidelines and codes of
practice have been drawn up to support both Acts (Rozlina, Awaluddin& Syed, 2011). Some
organization enforced the practices of answering safety-related questions in the hiring and
selection process (Lai, Liu & Ling, 2010). It is suggested that workers, andworkers who are
Ibrahim, I.I., / Asian Journal of Environment-Behaviour Studies, ajE-Bs, 4(15) Sep./ Oct. 2013 (pp.19-27)
able to answer the safety-related questions are more safety conscious and are able to work
safely with minimal supervision.
Based on the above review of literatures, this study aims to achieve the following:
1. To assess the level of staff's awareness towards workplace safety in higher
educational institutions.
2. To determine the relationship of organizational environment, management
commitment, staff’s attitudes and policies in the organization with safety in the
3. To identify the most predictive power of each variable on the safety at workplace.
3. Methodology
This study utilized questionnaires adapted from Durrisyahet al., (2004). There are several
sections in the questionnaire. Section A is on policies and procedures, Section B is on the
office environment, Section C is on management commitment, Section D is on staff’s
attitudes, Section E is on safety at the workplace and Section F is on respondents’
demographic information. There is a total of 39 items in the questionnaire. The reliability of
the questionnaire ranges from 0.6-0.8 which indicates that they are appropriate for use
(Nunnaly, 1978). The mean value for all dimensions shows that most respondents agree
with the statements offered in the questionnaire. Table 2.0 depicts the alpha value and
mean for each of the sections.
Table 2: Reliability coefficients and mean value for major variables
No of items
Policies & procedures
Office environment
Management commitment
Staffs attitudes
Safety at workplace
Notes: All items used 5 Likert scale (with 1= strongly disagree and5= strongly agree)
This is a cross sectional study conducted among the staff of Higher Learning institutions
(HLI). They are chosen as sample as they are part of the public sector and normally they
are marginalized when safety and health issuesare discussed. One of the universities in the
northern partof Malaysia is chosen to represent the HLI. The selected institution consists of
756 full time employees. It offers various fields of study such as applied sciences, sport
sciences, agro-technology, and business studies. Thus, the staffs are exposed to the office
environment, laboratories, halls and other facilities provided by the institution. The sample
size is 254. However, in order to ensure good feedback of the questionnaire, a total of 300
Ibrahim, I.I., / Asian Journal of Environment-Behaviour Studies, ajE-Bs, 4(15) Sep./ Oct. 2013 (pp.19-27)
sets of questionnaire weredistributed randomly using each person’s mailbox. In cases
where the staffs do not have a personal mailbox, the questionnaire was distributed directly
to their department.
4. Results and Discussion
The study was conducted in 2011 at one of the Higher Learning Institutions in Malaysia.
The response rate is 44% of sample size (113 staffs). Among those who participated,
68.1% is female, 53.1% has postgraduate education, and most (55.8%) of the respondents
are in the range of 21-35 years old. Previous study by Siu, Philliphs& Leung (2003) found
that age has a significant influence towards safety issues. Older workers are reported to
experience fewer accidents compared to younger workers as they are more exposed to the
self-safety efficacy. Moreover, as the tenure increases, the workers are able to deliberate
efficient method in accomplishing their tasks. Vast majority of respondents (35.4%) have
been working for more than 16 years. Similar numbers has less than 16 years of working
experience. It is hoped that these combination of experience would cancel off the negative
consequences of negative behavior towards health and safety. The details of the
respondents’ demographic factorsare shown in Table 3.0.
Table 3 : Demographics of respondents
Percentage (n=113)
52 and above
Postgraduate education
Bachelor degree
Secondary School
Ibrahim, I.I., / Asian Journal of Environment-Behaviour Studies, ajE-Bs, 4(15) Sep./ Oct. 2013 (pp.19-27)
Working experience:
Less than 5 years
6- 10 years
11-15 years
More than 16 years
Job Status:
In order to achieve the researcher’s objectives of investigating the relationship between
variables, the data were analyzed using Pearson Moment correlations. The results show
that there is a significant relationship between each of the variables with safety at
workplace. However, the strength of the relationship is deferred. There is a moderate
relationship between office environment (r=0.512) and safety, and policies and procedures
with safety (r=0.206). Meanwhile, for the relationship between management commitment
and safety, and attitudeto safety, the strength is low at 0.447 and 0.274 respectively. All
variables are also found to be significantly correlated with each other. The information is
summarized in table 4.0.
Table 4: Inter-correlation of the major variables
Safety at
Policies and
Safety at workplace
Office environment
Policies and procedures
Staffs attitudes
**p < 0.01
Next, a multiple regression test was conducted in order to understand the predicted
power of the factors that affect safety at workplace. Durbin Watson of 1.67 indicates that
there is no multicollinearity among the variables. The result shows the adjusted r2 is 0.336,
with a different weightageof the standardized coefficient. Among all, office environment,
policies and procedures are significant with standardized coefficient of 0.252 and 0.360
respectively. Hence, office environment contributes 25% while policies and procedures
contribute 36% in explaining the safety at workplace. Table 5.0 shows the result.
Ibrahim, I.I., / Asian Journal of Environment-Behaviour Studies, ajE-Bs, 4(15) Sep./ Oct. 2013 (pp.19-27)
Table 5: the Multiple Regression Result
Office environment
Policies and Procedures
Management Commitment
Staff’s Attitude
** p<0.01
F value
Adjusted r2
Significant F change
Similar findings were discovered by previous studies.However, in terms of factors that
contributeto safety, each study discovers different variables. Some found that management
support is the most important factor in safety program while others found that personal
awareness is the most influential factor (Zubaidah et al., 2012).
Compared to this study, only office environment and policies explain safety at
workplace. Individual awareness and management do not explain the safety situation in the
studied institution. The result is supported by Nor Azimah et al., (2009) who found that the
general view of the health and safety practices among employees in the health industry was
fairly low. However, Lai, Liu & Ling (2010)suggeststhat employees who are safety-
conscious appeared to be more aware of safety at the workplace. This situation minimizes
injuries and promotes a safer working environment.In addition, previous scholars suggested
few approaches that the management could use in addressing the safety issues, namely
safety training (William et al., 2010; Lu & Yang, 2011), incentives (Lai, Liu & Ling, 2010),
office environment (Haynes, 2008) and safety workshops (Williams, 1999). Moreover safety
education and training programs are identified as powerful tools to integrate the
occupational health and safety into the human development process regardless of their
profession. As for employees’ attitudes, study by previous scholars found that attitudes
could be influenced by safety culture thus, leading to better safety practices among
employees (Saksvik& Nytro, 1996).
Previous researchers also found that safety policies and procedures help in inhibiting
injuries atthe workplace. The findings of this study showed that policies and procedures are
significantly related to the safety at the workplace. Hence, the findings indicated thatwhen
safety policies and procedures are introduced and explained to the employees, they
perceived higher safety elementsin the workplace.Saksvik& Nytro (1996) suggest
thateducation on safety policies and regulationsis important asit provides the internal
mechanisms to continuously monitor the safety practices among employees. Papadopoulos
et al. (2010) in their review reported that changes in working environment affect the number
Ibrahim, I.I., / Asian Journal of Environment-Behaviour Studies, ajE-Bs, 4(15) Sep./ Oct. 2013 (pp.19-27)
of occupational accidents. In this study, the result indicates that the office environment is
significantly related to workplace safety. This result supports previous scholars where
working hours, employment contracts, knowledge in handling works and work pressures
can influence safety at workplace (Nor Azimah et al., 2009; Papadopoulos et al., 2010). A
proper working environmentdoes not only promote higher productivity level (Haynes, 2008),
but it also promotes a safer workplace.
This study proposes that office environment, policies and procedures, management
commitment and staff’s attitude have a significant relationship with safety practices as
perceived by the employees of Higher Learning Institutions. The staffs in the selected HLI
viewed that the safety at the workplace is important and the establishment of policies and
procedures, together with management commitment will further enhance safer working
environment. Firms must understand that providing a safe workplace is one of the elements
that lead into quality work life. People enjoy working in a safe work environment that
enables them to stimulate creativity. Eventually, the situation leads into a permissible
environment for lifelong learning.
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DOSH (2012). OSHA 1994 requirement: safety and health policy, OSH committee, and safety and health officer.
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Nunnally, J. C. (1978). Psychometric theory (2nd Ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.
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... In the Malaysian construction industry, there have been several research works associated with safety behaviour and safety culture (Abdul Rahim, Zaimi & Singh, 2008;Aziz, & Osman, 2019;Ibrahim et al., 2018;Ishak & Azizan, 2018;Majid, 2010;Ismail, Doostdar & Harun, 2012;Nawi et al., 2017). The Malaysian construction industry's labourers are typically not local. ...
... According to research studies by (Ibrahim et al., 2018;Majid, 2010), similar findings have shown that management commitment contributes to the implementation of safety practices. Without management support, safety practices cannot be implemented because they are required for the company to provide a safe working environment, as in OSHA 1994 under Section 14 makes safety the responsibility of employers towards employees. ...
... Chandrasekar (2011) states that physical workplace environment in an organization is one of the primary factors for greater employees' performance. Therefore, unsafe and unhealthy workplace environment should be avoided as it could lead to negative impacts on the organization (see Ibrahim et al., 2013). Clements-Croome (2006) describes the concept of 'workplace performance' as the factor of workplace environment that is being provided by the employer to their employees. ...
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