Occupational Safety Climate and Shift Work
Paper i proceeding, 2013
Developing and maintaining a rich safety culture is an important factor in achieving a safe workplace with low 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 safety culture 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 proximity to production lines have increased injury risks. This study investigates whether the level of safety climate is lower 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 Likert scale. The items are distributed across seven scales dealing with: Perceptions of management and worker commitment and priority to safety, safety empowerment from management, safety justice, safety communication and trust in safety systems. Data are derived from workers at two chemical plants in Sweden, both of which employ daytime workers and shift workers. Two-tailed t-tests of the data are carried out 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 using NOSACQ-50. Shift workers at the two plants have significantly lower scores on all seven safety climate scales, compared to daytime workers at the two plants. Separate analyses for each plant reveal that shift workers have significantly lower scores on five safety climate scales at the first plant, whereas there were no differences between shift workers and daytime workers at the second plant. Several of the daytime workers at 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 and experience with injury events may play more important roles than shift work itself, in explaining lower ratings of safety climate.