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March 17, 2012

Key Workplace Safety Factors: Worker Perception and Work-life Balance

Thinnk Safety signImproving work-life balance and worker opinions of safety could reduce injury rates nearly 40 percent, according to just-published research. University of Georgia researchers examined safety climate perceptions among a diverse sample of occupations and worker groups. Results show U.S. worker perceptions of safety in the workplace and the work-life balance established by businesses significantly influence on-the-job injury.

Companies that run in a smooth and effective manner with minimal constraints on worker performance can decrease injuries 38 percent as worker opinions improve, according to survey results. A worker's perception of a positive safety climate can decrease injuries by 32 percent. "Actions taken or not taken at the organizational level can either set the stage for injuries or help prevent them," said the main author.

Work-family interference also was established as a significant risk for occupational injury. In situations where work interferes with family life, or family demands affect job performance, the risk for injury increased 37 percent.

The study was conducted by a professor of health promotion and behavior and a graduate student who previously worked 12 years as a workplace safety consultant. Results were published online in January and are included in the February issue of the Journal of Safety Research.                 

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