Perceived safety climate, job demands, and coworker support among union and nonunion injured construction workers

J Safety Res. 2002 Spring;33(1):33-51. doi: 10.1016/s0022-4375(02)00002-6.


Problem: This study evaluated injured construction workers' perceptions of workplace safety climate, psychological job demands, decision latitude, and coworker support, and the relationship of these variables to the injury severity sustained by the workers.

Methods: Injury severity was assessed using the Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ), which evaluates functional limitations. Worker perceptions of workplace variables were determined by two instruments: (a) the Safety Climate Measure for Construction Sites and (b) the Job Content Questionnaire (JCQ).

Results: The overall model explained 23% of the variance in injury severity, with unique contributions provided by union status, the Safety Climate Score, and Psychological Job Demands. A positive significant correlation was found between injury severity and the Safety Climate Scores (r = .183, P = .003), and between the Safety Climate Scores and union status (r = .225, P < .001).

Discussion: There were statistically significant differences between union and nonunion workers' responses regarding perceived safety climate on 5 of the 10 safety climate items. Union workers were more likely than nonunion workers to: (a) perceive their supervisors as caring about their safety; (b) be made aware of dangerous work practices; (c) have received safety instructions when hired; (d) have regular job safety meetings; and (e) perceive that taking risks was not a part of their job. However, with regard to the 49-item JCQ, which includes Coworker Support, the responses between union and nonunion workers were very similar, indicating an overall high degree of job satisfaction. However, workers who experienced their workplace as more safe also perceived the level of management (r = -.55, P < .001) and coworker (r = -.31, P < .001) support as being higher.

Impact on industry: The findings of this study underscore the critical need for construction managers to alert workers to dangerous work practices and conditions more frequently, and express concern and praise workers for safe work in a manner that is culturally acceptable in this industry. Workplace interventions that decrease the incidence and severity of injuries, but that are flexible enough to meet a variety of potentially competing imperatives, such as production deadlines and client demands, need to be identified.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls*
  • Accidents, Occupational
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Industry / standards*
  • Job Description
  • Labor Unions
  • Male
  • Safety / standards*
  • Social Support*
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Surveys and Questionnaires