Optimising Safety Culture Surveys

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Here’s what we know or can reasonably infer about safety culture (perception) surveys:

  • Surveys are not reliable predictors of safety outcomes
  • Surveys should not be used in isolation
  • Individual perceptions can be influenced by many variables, including:
    – work history
    – cognitive ability
    – literacy
    – motivation
    – able/willing to think critically
    – general engagement
    – job satisfaction
    – mood
    – demographic – age, gender, time in business
  • Interval scales cannot be said to be equal in difference, e.g. same gap between agree and totally agree, as there is between disagree and totally disagree
  • Responses dependent on the responders ‘honesty’ which can be influenced by a number of factors such as anonymity, existing cynicism, individual agenda, internal politics, priming
  • Memory of the responder is important but can be unreliable
  • Cannot claim causality with safety outcomes as too many known and unknown variables also influencing outcomes
  • Can be correlational but also must accept that the relationship between behaviours, perceptions, and injuries are multi-directional, i.e. they can all influence each other in any direction
  • Is not predictive of major events/accidents