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Title: Evaluating the antecedents and consequences of safety climate
Author: Hetherington, Catherine
ISNI:       0000 0001 3555 399X
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2007
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This thesis aimed to evaluate the nature of safety climate; the component parts, the antecedents and the consequences. This work is based in the maritime domain, a sector with rising accident rates and many potential risk factors (such as managing a remote multicultural workforce on a high risk moving site), as identified through a literature review. An overview of the factors involved in human error within the maritime industry at an organisational and individual level showed that one contributory factor, which had been comparatively under-researched is safety climate. The review of safety climate literature post 2001 demonstrated wide variation in measurement across studies, although there was an element of consistency in terms of relationships with outcome variables and also in the topics measured as safety climate. Aligned with previous reviews, the role of management commitment to safety was highlighted, as expressed through its prevalence in studies of safety climate. A safety climate measure for the shipping sector, which loosely mapped the most common themes identified through the review, was designed. Study 1, a study of safety climate, safety behaviour and national culture, sampled 1067 seafarers from one company's 46 oil and gas shipping vessels and used this questionnaire to measure the relative contribution of management commitment benchmarked with other safety predictors when predicting behaviour. The results demonstrated that the sole predictor of safety behaviour was workers' perceptions of management commitment to safety. It is argued that the practice of including numerous other safety-related indicators (such as communication and satisfaction) in the prediction of behaviour is empirically unjustified and also theoretically misaligned. The role of grouped worker safety behaviour was also evaluated and group safety behaviour was posited as a mediator of the relationship between group safety climate and objective safety performance (as measured through company accident rates). Although there was a significant relationship between group safety behaviour and accident rates, behaviour did not act as the mediator in the relationship between safety climate and safety performance. Having illustrated that management commitment has a focal role in safety climate, it would appear logical to postulate a role for leadership in shaping the perceptions of managementc ommitment. This is also consistent with with previous research, which has demonstrated relationships between safety leadership and safety climate, although leadership for safety is still an area of research where little is known. A review of the leadership literature illustrated conceptual and levels of analysis issues in leadership. The second study, also with a seafaring sample from one company (n=447, across 27 ships), used the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (Avolio & Bass, 2004) to examine the relationship between leadership, safety climate (using Zohar & Luria, 2005 and Zohar & Luria, 2000 safety climate scales of group and organisational safety climate) and performance-both in safety and non-safety outcomes. The results demonstrated support for the role of transformational and passive leadership in shaping safety climate. Transactional leadership did not contribute significantly to the prediction of safety climate. Levels of analysis issues were considered in the research and leadership is proposed as a group-level construct with individual differences in outcomes, which aligns the findings of the second study with theoretical considerations in the literature.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Safety Management ; Shipping