16 Pages

Assessing the State of Organizational Safety-Culture or Climate?

WithKathryn J. Mearns, Rhona Flin

This chapter explores the concepts of safety culture and safety climate in an attempt to determine which is the more useful for describing an organization’s “state of safety.” Given the history of the development of “safety culture,” the latter scenario would appear to be the case, since current interest in the topic appears to have stemmed from the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. Denison has extensively discussed the differences and similarities between culture and climate, concluding that on the surface the distinctions appear to be quite clear. Climate refers to a situation and its link to thoughts, feelings and behaviours of organisational members. Psychological research into industrial safety during the 1990s has been dominated by studies attempting to measure safety culture or safety climate. A proliferation of definitions and methods has resulted in a mass of research lacking a coherent theoretical framework.