The relationship between employees' perceptions of safety and organizational culture

J Safety Res. Summer 2002;33(2):231-43. doi: 10.1016/s0022-4375(02)00014-2.


Problem: With limited resources to help reduce occupational injuries, companies struggle with how to best focus these resources to achieve the greatest reduction in injuries for the optimal cost. Safety culture has been identified as a critical factor that sets the tone for importance of safety within an organization.

Method: An employee safety perception survey was conducted, and injury data were collected over a 45-month period from a large ready-mix concrete producer located in the southwest region of the United States.

Results: The results of this preliminary study suggest that the reductions in injuries experienced at the company locations was strongly impacted by the positive employee perceptions on several key factors. Management's commitment to safety was the factor with the greatest positive perception by employees taking the survey.

Discussion: This study was set up as a pilot project and did not unitize an experimental design. That weakness reduces the strength of these findings but adds to the importance of expanding the pilot project with an appropriate experimental design.

Summary: Management leadership has been identified, along with several other factors, to influence employee perceptions of the safety management system. Those perceptions, in turn, appear to influence employee decisions that relate to at-risk behaviors and decisions on the job.

Impact on industry: The results suggest that employee perceptions of the safety system are related to management's commitment to safety, which, in turn, appear to be related to injury rates. Management should focus on how to best leverage these key factors to more positively impact injury rates within their companies.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Health*
  • Humans
  • Occupational Health*
  • Organizational Culture*
  • Perception