Workplace Health and Safety

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Journal of Occupational Health Psychology 2000, Vol. 5, No. 3, 347-358

Copyright 2000 by the Educational Publishing Foundation 1076-8998/00/$5.00 DOI: 10.1037fl1076-8998.5.3.347

Perceptions of Safety at Work: A Framework for Linking Safety Climate to Safety Performance, Knowledge, and Motivation Mark A. Griffin Queensland University of Technology Andrew Neal University of Queensland

Research in the areas of organizational climate and work performance was used to develop a framework for measuring perceptions of safety at work. The framework distinguished perceptions of the work environment from perceptions of performance related to safety. Two studies supported application of the framework to employee perceptions of safety in the workplace. Safety compliance and safety participation were distinguished as separate components of safetyrelated performance. Perceptions of knowledge about safety and motivation to perform safely influenced individual reports of safety performance and also mediated the link between safety climate and safety performance. Specific dimensions of safety climate were identified and constituted a higher order safety climate factor. The results support conceptualizing safety climate as an antecedent to safety performance in organizations.

The present study combines theories of individual performance (Borman & Motowidlo, 1993; Campbell, McCloy, Oppler, & Sager, 1993) with theories of organizational climate (L. A. James & James, 1989; L. R. James & Mclntyre, 1996) to develop a framework for investigating perceptions of safety in organizations. This framework provides a link between perceptions of the work environment and individual behavior within the work environment. We differentiate perceptions of the work environment, perceptions of individual behavior in the workplace, and mediational processes thought to underlie individual work performance. These distinctions are important because they allow systematic assessment of conceptually distinct perceptions that may have different causes and consequences within organizations. Recent reviews of the safety literature emphasize the influence of organizational factors on measures of system safety such as accidents and near misses (Hofmann, Jacobs, & Landy, 1995; Hofmann & Stetzer, 1999). Safety climate is an organizational factor commonly cited as an antecedent of system

safety, together with factors such as work pressure and communication practices (Hofmann & Stetzer, 1996). A key assumption of much of this literature is that the relationship between safety climate and system safety is at least partially mediated by individual safety behavior. However, few studies have elaborated the mechanisms through which organizational factors influence individual safety behavior at work. Because employee perceptions are central to the measurement of climate, this article develops a framework for measuring employee perceptions of safety-related factors in the work environment. We first discuss safety climate in terms of a higher order factor similar to other types of climate in organizations. We next discuss employee safety performance as an aspect of work performance. We then propose a model that links safety climate perceptions to individual safety performance and describe two studies of employee perceptions that test aspects of the model.

Safety C l i m a t e Mark A. Griffin, School of Management~ Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia; Andrew Neal, School of Psychology, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. This research was supported by the Australian Research Council (Grant No. A79801483). We are grateful for the assistance provided by Heidi Bushell and Adrian Lewis in collecting the data for the study. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Mark A. Griffin, School of Management, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane 4001, Queensland, Australia. Electronic mail may be...
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