Developing safety culture interventions in the manufacturing sector

  • Marcin Nazaruk

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


This thesis offers a commentary on the use of an embedded approach to explore variables impacting on employee safety culture at a large manufacturing plant. A mixed method approach was adopted in order to assess the safety culture of the company. The assessment stage consisted of point-of- work observations; unstructured individual interviews, semi-structured focus groups and a safety culture survey. This afforded a detailed insight into a rich array of context-specific variables impacting on employee perceptions of safety in the company, referenced to leadership style, incident reporting, rule breaking / risk taking, time pressure, communication and reactive approach to addressing safety issues.The safety culture assessment was followed by the development and implementation of two safety culture improvement programmes (interventions). Two matched pairs of departments (two experimental and two control) were chosen in which to conduct the interventions. The first intervention comprised a replication (with enhancements) of Zohar’s (2003) safety climate improvement intervention. The results indicated that low trust towards the management and the researcher, the face validity of the intervention, negative past experiences, insufficiently transparent communication and alienation engendered a high resistance to change. Seeking to address the shortcomings of the first, the second intervention represented a more organic approach, in which the improvement programme was designed to mesh with and complement established quality management systems. An improvement in employee safety performance was observed in the first month following its introduction, however, it is also possible that this was a consequence of a lean manufacturing intervention that took place at the same time. Variables affecting the intervention success were further explored though interviews with a sample of safety experts. This resulted in the development of a six stage model for successful safety culture intervention design and implementation. The insights gained from these studies were fed back to the industrial sponsor to contribute to corporate insight and understanding into variables impacting on employee safety culture and the design of successful safety improvement programs.
Date of Award1 Jun 2011
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorAndrew Weyman (Supervisor)


  • manufacturing
  • safety culture
  • change

Cite this