Job Autonomy and Safety Climate: Examining Associations in the Mining Industry
- Emily Haas (NIOSH Pittsburgh Mining Research Division (PMRD)) | Margaret Ryan (NIOSH PMRD) | Cassandra Hoebbel (NIOSH PMRD)
- Document ID
- American Society of Safety Engineers
- Professional Safety
- Publication Date
- December 2018
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 30 - 34
- 2018. American Society of Safety Professionals
- 1 in the last 30 days
- 9 since 2007
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- Job autonomy is among the most important features of organizational design that ensures job satisfaction and motivation. It is important to understand how job autonomy may support the safety climate and subsequent behaviors executed by workers.
- The authors used two mine companies to compare workers’ perceptions of safety climate and personal levels of proactivity and compliance on the job, one that incorporated autonomous work processes and practices, and one that did not.
- Job autonomy played a significant role in worker perceptions of their own proactive and compliant behaviors on the job, including taking initiative to address OSH problems, voicing concerns about OSH, and following rules and procedures.
- The discussion provides insights into specific autonomous work processes to provide direction for companies that want to improve aspects of their organizational management of safety, health and risks on the job.
Perceptions of safety climate pertain to an organization’s prioritization of safety relative to other concerns, such as productivity or quality control (Naveh, Katz-Navon & Stern, 2011; Zohar, 2000). Relating to what organizations may prioritize, safety climate also entails the kind of behaviors that are expected, supported and rewarded (Schneider, 1990). Characteristics of safety climate can impact workers’ own safety values, which, in turn, influence their behaviors (Naveh, et al., 2011).
Further, a positive safety climate has been linked to less burnout and fewer errors, near-hits and incidents that result in lost time from work (Christian, Bradley, Wallace, et al., 2009; Nahrgang, Morgesun & Hofmann, 2011). In this sense, not only has safety climate been identified as a potential leading indicator of incident occurrence, but also evidence exists that a positive safety climate might strengthen the impact of job factors (e.g., job autonomy, supervisor support, coworker support) on workers’ proactive behavior (Bronkhorst, 2015), although these factors are not well understood (Parker, Axtell & Turner, 2001).
To that end, this article examines what role job autonomy, in particular, may have in forming workers’ perceptions and subsequent OSH performance on the job. The authors begin by defining autonomy in the workplace to provide a consistent platform for studying the term.
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