Closing the Scientist-Practitioner Gap: Framework for Linking Safety Climate to Safety Performance

Griffin, M. A., & Neal, A. (2000). Perceptions of safety at work: A framework for linking safety climate to safety performance, knowledge, and motivation. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 5(3), 347-358.

Safety is a foundational element for many organizations. But how do organizations influence individuals to adhere to safe practices, raising safety performance? According to Griffin & Neal (2000), it’s all about organizational safety climate.

Overall, the safety climate of an organization affects the employees’ knowledge & motivation to behave in a safe manner, which directly affects performance.

Griffin & Neal proposed a framework in which overall safety is affected by the organizational safety climate through its relationship with safety knowledge & skill with safety practices and the employees’ motivation to participate in safety-related behaviors.

  • Important concepts to know
    • Safety climate: employees’ perceptions of the practices, procedures, and rewards in the organization related to safety
    • Safety performance: work behaviors relevant to increased safety
  • Their final model (shown below) was tested in two studies using surveys of large mining & manufacturing organizations. Here is what they found.
  • Safety performance is differentiated by three basic questions:
    • “What is safety performance?” (i.e., safety performance components)
      • Safety performance consists of
        • Safety compliance – Core safety activities that need to be done to be safe like wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) and adhering to other safety related policies.
        • Safety participation – Behaviors that don’t directly contribute to safety, but help develop an environment in support of safety like participating in voluntary safety activities or attending safety training.
    •  What directly determines safety performance?Safety performance is directly determined by knowledge & motivation to complete safety activities.
    •  What indirectly determines safety performance? Safety performance is indirectly determined by safety climate, which influences knowledge and motivation.
  • Safety climate is hierarchical – This means that someone’s small, specific perceptions of safety (i.e., how they feel about trainings available or how they think managers value safety) contributes to their overall view about what safety climate is in their organization
  • Indicators of safety climate – Manager values, safety communication, safety practices, personnel training, and safety equipment.
  • Safety climate influences performance through employees feeling more motivated & more knowledgeable about safety. Meaning, that when employees feel a good safety climate in their organization they are more likely to feel motivated to follow safety norms & that they have retained important safety information.
  • Safety climate influences going the extra mile for safety – The relationship they found between safety compliance motivation & safety participation indicates that employees who feel motivated to complete only those core safety activities are less likely to go above and beyond in developing a supportive safety environment. Meaning, if your employees are only focused on what they have to do to be safe, they likely won’t try to go the extra mile to ensure a supportive safety environment.

When looking at ways to improve safety, it may be important for an organization to look at how it presents itself to employees regarding safety. Ask yourself these questions to identify safety climate in your organizations:

  • Are managers valuing safety?
  • Are trainings in place so employees know what to do to be safe?
  • Do employees feel like they are able to report safety issues without reprimand? 
  • Do you have a good idea of what your overall safety culture is for your workforce?

A blog post by Creative Safety Supply states that building a great safety climate takes time, commitment, and a whole lot of positivity from the entire organization (See the full post here). Workforce Lifecycle Analytics has expertise in measuring safety climate assessing the relationship between safety climate and safety outcomes to help create a positive safety environment for your workforce.


Safety Climate. (2018, May 24). Retrieved June 24, 2020, from

Article By Brooke Ackerman, Juliette Lloyd, and Brandon Jordan

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