Author: Yeung, Koon Chuen
Title: A safety culture study in elderly homes
Degree: DHSc
Year: 2011
Subject: Old age homes -- China -- Hong Kong -- Safety measures.
Industrial safety -- Management.
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Faculty of Health and Social Sciences
Pages: xii, 179 leaves : ill. (some col.) ; 30 cm.
Language: English
Abstract: Safety professionals have increasingly turned their attention to social science for insight into the causation of occupational accidents. Two social constructs, safety climate and safety behavior, have been examined by several researchers. The aim of the present study was to make use of the safety climate instrument developed by OSHC to measure the safety perceptions of employees in elderly homes such that the factor structure of the safety climate dimensions of elderly homes could be explored. In 2010, questionnaire surveys by mustering on site method were administered in twenty-seven elderly homes that have participated in the "Hong Kong Safe and Healthy Residential Care Home Accreditation Scheme" organized by the Occupational Safety and Health Council (OSHC). Six hundred and fifty-one surveys were returned with a response rate of 54.3%. To examine the factor structure of safety climate dimensions in our study, an exploratory factor analysis (EFA) using principal components analysis method was conducted to identify the underlying factors. The results of the modified seven-factor's safety climate structure extracted from 35 items better reflected the safety climate dimensions of elderly homes. The modified OSHC safety climate tool provided better evidence of structural validity and reliability for use by elderly homes' decision makers as an indicator of employee perception of safety in their institution. Responses from managerial level, supervisory and professional level, and front-line staff were analyzed to come up with the suggestion on effective ways of improving the safety culture of elderly homes. The overall results showed that managers generally gave positive responses in the factors evaluated, such as "management commitment and concern to safety", "perception of work risks and some contributory influences", "safety communication and awareness", and "safe working attitude and participation". Supervisors / professionals, and frontline level staff on the other hand, have less positive responses. The result of the lowest score in the factors - "perception of safety rules and procedures" underlined the importance of the relevance and practicability of safety rules and procedures.
In the subsequent analysis based on the factor structure, multiple regression was used to explore the relationship between demographic variables with safety climate. Statistically significant relationships were found between safety climate and certain demographic variables. The staffs who were at management position or with education at a degree or higher level have a better positive perception of safety climate. The results implied that management was influential in creating a positive safety culture and the importance of safety training should be emphasized within the elderly home. On the other hand, employees who have to support 7 or more family members have a less positive perception of safety climate. The result implied that with increased family responsibilities may bring psychological stress to employees such that they will have more negative perceptions of safety climate. The study also tested the relationship among safety climate, safety behavior, and safety performance. The result of regression analysis confirmed that the relationship of safety climate to injury frequency was mediated by safety behavior. That is, safety climate set the stage for safety behavior which, in turn, predicted injury frequency. This climate-behavior-injury relationship provided valuable direction for the management of elderly homes. Besides the conventional approach on enhancing the organizational safety management system, the study implied that more attention should be put on designing safety climate programs as well as safety behavioral program so as to further enhance the organizational safety culture. The modified seven-factor structure of safety climate in the study is the driving factor that acts as a frame of reference for guiding safety behavior which in turn, reduces the likelihood of accidents and injuries. The study also explored whether the elderly home variables moderated the effect of individual safety climate on safety behavior by using the hierarchical linear modeling. Statistically significant relationships were found between safety behavior and certain elderly home setting variables, including audit scores, privatized homes and home areas. The higher the audit scores of elderly homes or the larger the elderly home size, the more the staff's safety behavior observed in the settings. Furthermore, the staff working in the privatized homes tends to always breaking safety procedures while at work because of a higher resident-to-staff ratio and a lower area-to-resident ratio when compared with the government-subsidized homes. By improving staffing levels in elderly homes and increasing elderly home areas, the staff's safety compliance can be enhanced. The findings and suggestions in the study provide useful information for the management, supervisors / professionals and frontline level staff to cultivate the safety culture in the elderly home sector. It also provides a solid foundation for the development of meaningful organizational interventions and/or continued research into social factors affecting safety culture and occupational accident experience.
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