Safety culture refers to the implicit assumptions, values, and beliefs that employees hold about workplace safety. Essentially, it is "the way things are done around here when it comes to safety." This is a simple definition for a complex concept that has been the focus of decades of research within Occupational Health Psychology. This presentation focusses on the sound research methods and measurement strategies that can be used to more effectively design and evaluate safety culture interventions.

Organisations spend significant resources implementing initiatives with the goal of improving the safety culture. Too often, critical steps of the intervention, namely diagnosis and evaluation, are not thoroughly considered or completed with the necessary rigour. For instance, an organisation may design an intervention based on the assumed cause of a debilitating safety culture, rather than going through the proper due diligence to diagnose the cause. Furthermore, organisations often scramble after the intervention to identify what safety metrics, most notably global lag indicators, are available to demonstrate that the intervention had an impact.

This presentation offers solutions to these challenges by providing attendees with the knowledge and skills to engage in more thorough diagnostic and evaluation practices when trying to improve an organisation’s safety culture.

The following specific topics will be addressed in this presentation:

  • Defining and modelling safety culture

  • Qualitatively and quantitatively diagnosing safety culture challenges

  • Developing an efficacy framework to evaluate the effectiveness of safety culture interventions

To illustrate these topics, the presenters will use findings from applied safety culture research projects focussed on diagnosing the areas for improvement within organisations’ safety culture and evaluating safety culture interventions.

Although safety culture is often seen as a "soft" concept, there is a significant opportunity to use more structured processes and sophisticated measurement techniques when designing, implementing, and evaluating safety culture interventions.

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