Predicting Propensity to Actively Care for Occupational Safety
E. Scott Geller, D. Steve Roberts, and Mike Gilmore
A 154-item safety culture survey (SCS) was administered to the employees of two
industrial plants to test a model designed to predict individuals' willingness to "actively
care" (AC) for the safety of coworkers.
A total of 530 surveys were completed at a mean
return rate of 89%.
The regression analysis at each site (R
.267 and .466) showed the
same four subscales on the SCS (i.e., measures of personal control, group cohesion,
extroversion, and reactance) to predict independent variance in employees' reported
willingness to AC.
Furthermore, a higher percentage of scales hypothesized to predict
AC were significantly correlated with AC (i.e., 90 percent) than the scales hypothesized
not to predict AC (i.e., 50 percent).
Therefore, the results were largely consistent with
theory (i.e., our AC model), except for the prominent impact of reactance on AC
Thus, the results showed convergent and divergent validity of the AC model,
while also suggesting specific theory refinements.
Numerous researchers have reported significant improvement in individual and group
work performance following a behavior-based feedback process (e.g., Geller, Eason,
Phillips, & Pierson, 1980; Komaki, Heinzmann, & Lawson, 1980; Sulzer-Azaroff & de
Santa Maria, 1980).
This approach to organizational behavior management, whereby
workers receive specific feedback from systematic observation and recording of
designated target behaviors, has been applied frequently and successfully to reduce work
injuries (e.g., Krause, Hidley, & Hodson, 1989; Sulzer-Azaroff, 1982, 1987).
the research demonstrating the beneficial impact of behavioral observation and feedback
on occupational safety has usually been short-term and small-scale, requiring outside
agents (or consultants) to help implement the process.
Large-scale and long-term
application of behavior-change techniques requires the employees themselves to apply
the interventions (e.g., systematic behavioral observation and feedback) throughout the
Geller (1991) addressed the need to get employees actively involved in implementing
behavior-change processes with the introduction of an “actively caring" model.
context of occupational safety, actively caring (AC) was operationally defined as
employees acting to benefit the safety of other employees (e.g., observing and recording
the safe and unsafe behaviors of coworkers, and then giving them constructive behavioral
From a review of the social/personality literature, Geller
that three personality states or expectancies, modified by work-place situations and
interactions, influence employees’ propensity to AC for another person’s health or safety.