In Brief

  • This article discusses a study designed to better understand safety climate in the lone worker environment and its potential impact on safety performance.

  • The authors developed and tested the validity of a generic safety climate survey geared toward the lone working situation, then developed two safety climate surveys designed for trucking and utility workers.

  • The article presents the scientific integrity of the survey development process, and discusses the concepts of survey reliability and validity evidence. It also offers practical suggestions on how to implement surveys in the field.

Jane, a truck driver, is en route to an important customer site and road conditions change---a crash, construction, a detour---resulting in heavy traffic. Unless she speeds, the delivery will be late. The driver knows she should adhere to the speed limit, but the customer is waiting and the boss is expecting results. What does she do?

The pressure is on all utility crews to restore power for an important customer. Despite having already worked a regular shift, Joe, a lineman feels obligated to stay on duty. He knows the company's reputation is at stake and the boss is being pressured, but exhaustion has set in and he cannot think straight. What does he do?

Every day, truck drivers, utility workers and other lone workers encounter situations in which safety conflicts with job demands. Because they work remotely, these individuals must often resolve the conflicts alone, without the direct support or input of supervisors or management. Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety (LMRIS) found that even for lone workers a company's safety climate (employees' safety perceptions) is strongly associated with safety behaviors and injury outcomes.

Safety Climate

In recent years, risk managers and safety directors have begun exploring organizational and psychosocial factors in the workplace to complement traditional safety approaches (e.g., engineering design, protective equipment, training). One prominent area being explored is safety climate, which was first introduced by Zohar (1980). Zohar defined safety climate as workers' shared perception of an organization's policies, procedures and practices as they relate to the true/relative value and importance of safety within the organization (Zohar, 1980). Safety climate reflects a company's state of safety at a discrete point in time.

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