Online Program

Construction safety climate and culture: Seeking congruence between research and practice

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Linda Goldenhar, PhD, Center for Construction Research and Training, Silver Spring, MD
Steven Hecker, MSPH, Labor Education and Research Center, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR
Background and Objectives The primary goal of this study was to assess the congruence between the current state of the literature on safety climate/culture practices, including definitions, interventions, and assessment tools, and actual practice by construction firms.

Methods We performed a targeted literature review and conducted interviews with 20 key informants, half representing construction contractors, and the remainder divided among owners, union/association representatives, and safety consultants. We purposefully sampled interviewees known to follow “injury free” or similar safety programs using our current network plus a snowball sampling strategy. In order to meet our objectives we conducted qualitative analysis by creating and using an apriori codebook that contained shared elements and constructs found in literature.

Results Findings showed congruence on numerous safety program elements including pre-planning for safety; demonstrated upper management commitment, involvement, and accountability; employee empowerment; safety as part of performance evaluation and communication and leadership training for supervisors and managers; and a focus on proactive preventive safety activities. Behavioral observation appears to be commonly used, as are incentive programs, though recognition for preventive activities are seen as preferable. Near-miss reporting and analysis activities are used by some, but interviewees noted that they are the most challenging best practice to implement.

Conclusions The wide variation of climate assessment instruments, safety culture models, and intervention types reported in the literature made creating an apriori codebook and thus finding congruence between research and practice challenging.

Learning Areas:

Occupational health and safety

Learning Objectives:
Describe key best safety culture/climate activities found in both research and actual practice.

Keyword(s): Safety, Culture

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have a doctoral degree in Public Health obtained in 1991 from the University of Michigan. I conducted construction safety and health research at NIOSH for 8 years and was their Construction Coordinator. I was on CPWR's Technical Advisory Board for 11 years prior to joining the CPWR staff in October 2012.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.