Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 2016;42(4):329-337    pdf full text

doi:10.5271/sjweh.3569

Improving safety climate through a communication and recognition program for construction: a mixed methods study

by Sparer EH, Catalano PJ, Herrick RF, Dennerlein JT

Objectives This study aimed to evaluate the efficacy of a safety communication and recognition program (B-SAFE), designed to encourage improvement of physical working conditions and hazard reduction in construction.

Methods A matched pair cluster randomized controlled trial was conducted on eight worksites (four received the B-SAFE intervention, four served as control sites) for approximately five months per site. Pre- and post-exposure worker surveys were collected at all sites (N=615, pre-exposure response rate of 74%, post-exposure response rate of 88%). Multi-level mixed effect regression models evaluated the effect of B-SAFE on safety climate as assessed from surveys. Focus groups (N=6–8 workers/site) were conducted following data collection. Transcripts were coded and analyzed for thematic content using Atlas.ti (version 6).

Results The mean safety climate score at intervention sites, as measured on a 0–50 point scale, increased 0.5 points (1%) between pre- and post-B-SAFE exposure, compared to control sites that decreased 0.8 points (1.6%). The intervention effect size was 1.64 (3.28%) (P-value=0.01) when adjusted for month the worker started on-site, total length of time on-site, as well as individual characteristics (trade, title, age, and race/ethnicity). At intervention sites, workers noted increased levels of safety awareness, communication, and teamwork compared to control sites.

Conclusions B-SAFE led to many positive changes, including an improvement in safety climate, awareness, teambuilding, and communication. B-SAFE was a simple intervention that engaged workers through effective communication infrastructures and had a significant, positive effect on worksite safety.

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