This study revealed that stark differences can exist between the perceived importance of safety, and actual safety. While management safety values and vision were rated the highest, more practical aspects of safety such as physical safety, and safety training were rated the lowest. This disconnect indicates the importance of embedding a safety vision into an organisation. It is not enough to have leaders articulate a safety vision, employees must also receive practical support to act safely. Unless employees are given adequate safety equipment, and training to work safely, safety values and vision are likely to lose their power to influence safety outcomes.
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Background and Research Aims
The purpose of this research was to gather information about the risks, practices and beliefs in companies across developing countries engaged in mining or associated activities. This information can then be used to identify areas of safety that require targeted training interventions as well as providing initial benchmarks that can be used by regulators and training agencies.
National cultures vary greatly in their support for practices that improve safety and in their beliefs about the way individuals contribute to safety. The types of risks faced by workers in the mining industry also vary from country to country. These differences have implications for the type of training interventions that are likely to be effective in different cultural contexts.
How was this Research Conducted?
- Data was collected using the International Safety Survey, a survey that assesses 17 distinct factors contributing to safety at the individual, team and organisational level.
- Surveys were completed by 879 respondents from eight different countries: Gambia, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Mongolia, Nigeria, The Philippines and Zambia.
- Respondents came from various levels within organisations, with 51.2% of respondents being operational staff who worked onsite and 46.9% working in non-operational roles (e.g. supervisory,managerial or administrative positions).
What was Discovered?
The results from the survey showed respondents from all countries identified a large number of risks as being present in their worksite. Besides the most common risks present in the mining sector in Western countries, a number of risks specific to mining in developing countries were also identified, such as: hygiene and sanitation, poor working conditions and the adequacy of safety equipment and protocols.
At the individual level, participants tended to believe safety was important. However, individuals generally tended to comply with safety requirements more than they actively participated and promoted safety in the organisation.
At the organisational level, highest rated subscales were related to perceptions of overall organisational vision and values oriented towards safety. Contrastingly, the lowest rated subscales were related to tangible safety outcomes, suggesting there is a disconnect between perceived attitudes toward safety and actual safety in the workplace.
Andrei, D., Griffin, M., Chapman, A., & Talati, Z. (2014). The “Status of safety”: A cross-cultural investigation of safety risks, practices, and beliefs in the mining sector in seven developing countries. Conference Paper for ICAP 2014, Paris.