Safety Climate and Culture: Integrating Psychological and Systems Perspectives

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Abstract

Safety climate research has reached a mature stage of development, with a number of meta-analyses demonstrating the link between safety climate and safety outcomes. More recently, there has been interest from systems theorists in integrating the concept of safety culture and to a lesser extent, safety climate into systems-based models of organizational safety. Such models represent a theoretical and practical development of the safety climate concept by positioning climate as part of a dynamic work system in which perceptions of safety act to constrain and shape employee behavior. We propose safety climate and safety culture constitute part of the enabling capitals through which organizations build safety capability. We discuss how organizations can deploy different configurations of enabling capital to exert control over work systems and maintain safe and productive performance. We outline 4 key strategies through which organizations to reconcile the system control problems of promotion versus prevention, and stability versus flexibility.

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