The Shelf Life of a Safety Climate Assessment: How Long Until the Relationship with Safety-Critical Incidents Expires?
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PURPOSE: This study investigates safety climate as both a leading (climateincident) and a lagging (incidentclimate) indicator of safety-critical incidents. This study examines the "shelf life" of a safety climate assessment and its relationships with incidents, both past and future, by examining series of incident rates in order to determine when these predictive relationships expire. DESIGN/METHODOLOGY/APPROACH: A survey was conducted at a large, multinational chemical manufacturing company, with 7,467 responses at 42 worksites in 12 countries linked to over 14,000 incident records during the 2years prior and 2years following the survey period. Regressions revealed that safety climate predicts incidents of varying levels of severity, but it predicts the most severe incidents over the shortest period of time. The same is true for incidents predicting safety climate, with more severe incidents having a shorter predictive window. For the most critical relationship (climate predicting more severe incidents), the ability of a safety climate assessment to predict incidents expires after 3months. IMPLICATIONS: The choice of aggregation period in constructing incident rates is essential in understanding the safety climate-incident relationship. The common yearly count of incidents would make it seem that more severe incidents cannot be predicted by safety climate and also fails to show the strongest predictive effects of less severe incidents. ORIGINALITY/VALUE: This research is the first to examine assumptions regarding aggregation periods when constructing safety-related incident rates. Our work guides organizations in planning their survey program, recommending more frequent measurement of safety climate.