The fundamental management process is to allocate available resources to a productive end. In the case of safety and health, management must identify how to best allocate limited resources to ensure the fewest mishaps that result in injuries to employees, damage to equipment or harm to the environment.
Research suggests that the safety management system has the most significant impact on injury rates (Carder, 2003; O'Toole, 2002). Other research involving safety management systems suggests that the most critical factor influencing successful safety results is that of management's demonstrated support of safety (Erickson, 2008). Based on her earlier re-search, Erickson (1994) also suggests that interventions targeting only safety-related items are less than successful if addressed in isolation. In other words, problems or issues identified as safety related are really a symptom of a broader management system issue, such as leadership and/or visible support for safety and health issues.
Zohar (1980; 2005) used employee safety questionnaires to identify the relative importance of specific safety factors in several industrial settings in Israel. Bailey and Petersen (1989) used the Minnesota Safety Perception survey to identify factors that positively contribute to injury reduction in the railroad industry as well as in several other industries. Results of Bailey's (1997) follow-up study suggest that at facilities with low injury rates, employees' perceptions of critical safety factors were highly positive.
Perceptions, like attitudes, have been recognized as an important factor in safety. Research in this area suggests that when measured, perceptions can predict the likelihood of certain behaviors (Ivers, Senserrick, Boufous, et al., 2009). The importance of this factor is especially critical where employees have little or no direct supervision. In such settings, an employee makes important choices and decisions about safety rules, practices and procedures. If perceptions about safety are low, that employee may be more likely to take a shortcut or engage in some other at-risk behavior which can lead to an injury.