Does talking the talk matter? Effects of supervisor safety communication and safety climate on long-haul truckers' safety performance

Accid Anal Prev. 2018 Aug;117:357-367. doi: 10.1016/j.aap.2017.09.006. Epub 2018 Feb 28.

Abstract

This study examines the distinct contribution of supervisory safety communication and its interaction with safety climate in the prediction of safety performance and objective safety outcomes. Supervisory safety communication is defined as subordinates' perceptions of the extent to which their supervisor provides them with relevant safety information about their job (i.e., top-down communication) and the extent to which they feel comfortable discussing safety issues with their supervisor (i.e., bottom-up communication). Survey data were collected from 5162 truck drivers from a U.S. trucking company with a 62.1% response rate. Individual employees' survey responses were matched to their safety outcomes (i.e., lost-time injuries) six months after the survey data collection. Results showed that the quality of supervisor communication about safety uniquely contributes to safety outcomes, above and beyond measures of both group-level and organization-level safety climate. The construct validity of a newly-adapted safety communication scale was demonstrated, particularly focusing on its distinctiveness from safety climate and testing a model showing that communication had both main and moderating effects on safety behavior that ultimately predicted truck drivers' injury rates. Our findings support the need for continued attention to supervisory safety communication as an important factor by itself, as well as a contingency factor influencing how safety climate relates to safety outcomes.

Keywords: Long-haul truck drivers; Safety climate; Safety performance; Supervisor safety communication; Workplace injury.

Publication types

  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Automobile Driving / psychology*
  • Communication
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Vehicles / standards*
  • Motor Vehicles / statistics & numerical data
  • Occupational Health / standards
  • Organizational Culture*
  • Safety Management / methods*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States