348656 Searching for the Variables and Modifiers to Safety Climate and Safety Culture

Tuesday, April 1, 2014: 3:30 PM
Grand Ballroom B (Hilton New Orleans Riverside)
Fred Infortunio, Houston, TX


Searching for the Variables and Modifiers to Safety Climate and Safety Culture

and a Suggested Methodology in Developing  Functional Interventions.

By Fred Infortunio

920 Memorial City Way

Suite 700

Houston, TX 77024


September 20, 2013

This paper reviews the underlying cultural structure of human interactions that relate to safety , process safety. It then expands in  scope to review the organizational safety climate which most researchers focus on.

The underlying cultural dimensions are a result of where   plants are located and where the people  - the plant operators, and the plant management come from, the type of industry and their accepted norms (their historic, resources, beliefs, and behaviors).

The underlying anthropological cultural dimensions were first identified by Geert  Hofstede (1980). These dimensions affect the communications  between the people in general and then more importantly between the management and the employees.  They guide or underlie the expectations of the interactions between the groups.  Taking a systems approach (Nancy Leveson, 2011, )  they modify the feedback and feed forward loops in the safety system process.

These basic underlying cultural dimensions then act as modifiers to the upper level dimensions that are associated with organizational behavior. Including the leadership commitment to safety, there are several factors that could override or act in concert with the cultural propensity toward accidents. These would include stress factors, safety training, level of education, level of financial attainment, personality type, immigration status, marriage status, age, gender, mental health, emotional disposition, emotional state, government rules regulation and enforcement, and degrees of hazard.

Further, as an important overarching situational variable, stress  and the organization’s  / society’s  ability to cope with stress  significantly relates to  the process safety outcomes.

According to  Sutherland & Cooper ( 1986, 1991) anything that affects the stress levels might be seen as a modifier in the rate of accidents befalling an individual or an organization.  

All of these variables are interwoven into an organizational culture. The paper then expands to suggest organizational development techniques which will assist in modifying the cultural forces requiring intervention.

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