The Development and Validation of a Cross-Industry Safety Climate Measure: Resolving Conceptual and Operational Issues

Jeremy M. Beus, Stephanie C. Payne, Winfred Arthur, Gonzalo J. Muñoz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Although safety climate research has increased in recent years, persisting conceptual ambiguity not only raises questions about what safety climate really is—as operationalized in the literature—but also inhibits increased scientific understanding of the construct. Consequently, using climate theory and research as a conceptual basis, we inductively articulated safety climate’s general content domain by identifying seven core indicators of safety’s perceived workplace priority: leader safety commitment, safety communication, safety training, coworker safety practices, safety equipment and housekeeping, safety involvement, and safety rewards. These indicators formed the basis for a generalized safety climate measure that we designed for use across organizations, industries, and construct levels. We then conducted a multilevel construct validation of safety climate using the newly created measure in two separate studies. Results from five samples spanning multiple organizations, industries, and cultural settings revealed that the identified safety climate indicators were parsimoniously explained by an overarching safety climate factor at the individual and workgroup levels. In addition, multilevel homology tests indicated that safety climate’s associations with past safety incidents were nearly two times stronger at the workgroup level relative to the individual level, although this difference was not statistically significant. Finally, workgroup-level validity evidence demonstrated expected associations between safety climate and organization-reported pre- and postsurvey safety incidents. On the basis of this supportive evidence, we recommend that this conceptualization and measure of safety climate be adopted in research and practice to facilitate future scientific progress.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1987-2013
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Management
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 May 2019


  • measure development
  • multilevel construct validation
  • organizational climate
  • safety climate
  • safety culture


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