Occupational safety climate and shift work

Tidsskriftartikel - 2013

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Developing and maintaining a rich safety culture is an important factor in achieving a safe workplace withlow injury rates. Safety climate measures provide a snapshot of the safety culture, as they reflect workers'shared perceptions of how management and workers deal with safety on a daily basis. There is however,research evidence that safety may be compromised for shift workers during night shifts. The role of safetyculture has been documented in major accidents such as Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Exxon Valdez,all of which involved work activities at night. There is also evidence that workers who work in close proximityto production lines have increased injury risks. This study investigates whether the level of safety climate islower among shift workers, who work both days and nights compared to daytime workers.The Nordic Occupational Safety Climate Questionnaire (NOSACQ-50) is used to evaluate the safety climate.The questionnaire contains 50 positively formulated and negated (reversed) items using a four-point Likertscale. The items are distributed across seven scales dealing with: Perceptions of management and workercommitment and priority to safety, safety empowerment from management, safety justice, safetycommunication and trust in safety systems. Data are derived from workers at two chemical plants inSweden, both of which employ daytime workers and shift workers. Two-tailed t-tests of the data are carriedout in SPSS, and are supplemented with injury data and the type of work with proximity to production lines.The level of safety climate is relatively high at both plants, compared to other international studies usingNOSACQ-50. Shift workers at the two plants have significantly lower scores on all seven safety climatescales, compared to daytime workers at the two plants. Separate analyses for each plant reveal that shiftworkers have significantly lower scores on five safety climate scales at the first plant, whereas there were nodifferences between shift workers and daytime workers at the second plant. Several of the daytime workersat the first plant are located further away from production lines and laboratories than the other three groups,and they experience fewer direct accidents and/or dangerous situations at work. Greater risk exposure andexperience with injury events may play more important roles than shift work itself, in explaining lower ratingsof safety climate.

Reference

Bergh M, Shahriari M, Kines PA. Occupational safety climate and shift work. Chemical Engineering Transactions 2013;31:403-408.
doi: 10.3303/CET1331068

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