Further Validation of Safety Culture Measurement Tool for Improving Safety in Commuter Rail Operations

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  • Abstract:
    Building upon the development of a measure of safety culture based on a simplified two-factor model of meaning and behavior, a further validation study of the safety culture instrument was undertaken. The Safety Culture Assessment Survey (SCAS) was administered to a large regional railroad organization at two separate times. The instrument has demonstrated psychometric properties of reliability and validity. Combining data from two time periods also demonstrated significant differences in observed safe and unsafe behavior for those who scored high versus low on the SCAS scales. The scale demonstrated criterion validity in that that scores on the SCAS successfully differentiated those who had performed safe versus unsafe behavior as noted by supervisors. Moreover, subscales of the safety SCAS were significantly related to safety performance outcome measures, such as reported injuries, accidents, and near misses. Statistically significant odds ratios of reporting a near miss were obtained when safety culture measures from SCAS subscales were low, which indicated weak safety culture in the areas of senior and front-line management’s commitment to safety, a culture that prioritized productivity over safety, and a culture that underutilized safety practices such as job briefings. Similarly, the odds of reporting an accident were nearly five times greater if a respondent perceived the organizational culture as prioritizing productivity over safety. Overall, this study furthered the development and validation of a measure of corporate safety culture for the transportation industry. Recommendations for the measurement that can lead to the development of a strong safety culture were discussed.
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