PROJECTS - Psychological Perceptions on Safety

Safety is a concept that should be entrenched into employees as a way of life. Although this holds true, organisations often approach safety with very diplomatic policies and regulatory procedures only. Consequently, it is essential that individuals need to ‘buy into’ a lifestyle psychologically and not purely from an intellectual standpoint.

Human factors have a specific part to play in achieving and maintaining high standards of health and safety. A major influence on people's safety related behaviour is the prevailing health and safety culture of the organisations in which they work. 'The safety culture of an organisation is the product of individual and group values, attitudes, perceptions, competencies, and patterns of behaviour that determine commitment to, and the style and proficiency of an organisation's health and safety management. Organisations with a positive safety culture are characterised by communications founded on mutual trust, by shared perceptions of the importance of safety and by confidence in the efficacy of preventive measures.' A 'good' safety culture is one that encourages people to care about adverse outcomes. It is the 'way things are done around here'. It is also important to have an understanding of the use of 'climate'.

The Assessment Centre focus is more on the safety climate of an organisation. Safety climate can be regarded as the surface features of the safety culture determined from the workforce's attitudes and perceptions at a given point in time. It is a snapshot of the state of safety providing an indicator of the underlying safety culture of an organisation.

The Employee Perceptions on Safety Performance Survey has been developed by the Assessment Centre (EPSSP). Reliability results for the different factors on the instrument is between 0,64 and 0,93. The information obtained from the survey portray how employees currently perceive their organisation in terms of certain aspects such as involvement of top management in safety, role of the immediate supervisor, risk behaviour, reporting incidents and near-misses, communication, receptiveness to safety information, equipment and tools, post-accident reactions, etc.

Two processes are followed depending on the need of the organisation:

Process A:

Facilitation sessions are held with employees to analyse why they work unsafely. During the session instruments are also administered namely a stress survey, conflict management style, locus of control and the Employee Perception on Safety Performance Survey.

Process B:

Only the Employee Perceptions on Safety Performance Survey are administered. Statistical analysis is done on the data and a primary report is compiled.