Workers can often be blamed for their injuries on the job. Employers may assume that they have been careless or haven't followed safety protocols. Yet, according to a new study by the University of Georgia, it turns out that upper-level management may have much more influence on workplace safety and the rate of workplace accidents.
The study - published this month in the Journal of Safety Research - found that when management fostered the perception of a positive safety climate among employees, the number of workplace injuries went down 32 percent. Day-to-day practices were more influential than written safety protocols.
When employees felt that a company ran smoothly and that there were minimal constraints on their performance, the injury rate dropped as much as 38 percent, the study found.
"Injury is a failure of management," said study co-author Dave DeJoy, a professor of health promotion and behavior at UGA. "Organizations who blame individuals for injuries do not create a positive safety climate."
The study, co-authored by DeJoy and recent doctoral graduate Todd Smith, is one of the first to examine the perceptions of workplace safety climate among a diverse sample of occupations and workers.
In addition to the culture of workplace safety that employers establish, an imbalance between work and family life was also found to affect the rate of workplace injury. The study found that when workers felt that their work life was interfering with their family life - or vice versa - the rate of injuries rose 37 percent.
"We used to think work was one thing and family was another, but now there is a realization that work-life balance affects performance and productivity," DeJoy said.
The study looked at nine factors that may influence workplace safety: relations between management and employees, safety climate, the effectiveness of the workplace, type of work, the potential for promotion or other advancement, the adequacy of resources, employee work-life balance, support provided by management, and worker participation. The study also considered the ethnic background of workers.
To see the full study, visit sciencedirect.com.
The study shows how important it is for employers to create a positive safety culture for employees - one that doesn't just put safety measures in place but that actively promotes the importance of safety. If you or a loved one has been injured on the job, you may be able to receive compensation for your injuries. Contact the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin for a free and confidential evaluation of your case.