Loughborough University
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Safety culture and climate in the construction industry: a multi-phase mixed methods investigation

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posted on 2022-02-03, 10:08 authored by Ruth Hartley
The construction industry is associated with high fatality rates, and disproportionately high levels of injury and ill health. Safety culture and climate have been researched within the construction industry for over 20 years and are seen as potential factors that can be leveraged to reduce poor health and safety outcomes. However, safety culture and climate are typically investigated as a single construct, ‘organisational safety climate’. This is problematic as the construction industry is complex and dynamic, with multiple organisations coming together temporarily to work on projects. Under these circumstances, how can an ‘organisational’ climate form? This research seeks to examine how safety culture and climate manifest within this context; specifically, investigating whether there are multiple levels of safety culture and climate, their relationships to each other, and impact on behaviour and accident levels. A mixed method multi-phase design was used, incorporating interviews and questionnaires. This enables exploratory and explanatory research, and a rich understanding of the phenomena. Interviews were conducted with 18 ‘industry experts’, who came from a representative range of construction backgrounds. Questionnaires with scales addressing various levels of safety climate were distributed within three organisations (n = 979, 215 and 417). Multiple levels of safety culture and climate are apparent within organisations and there is a relationship between them. However, the climates which are manifest, and their relationship to each other, are influenced by organisational characteristics. Safety culture and climate were found to influence both safety behaviour and accident levels. Thus, these findings have implications for the management of safety in the construction industry, as influencing safety culture and climate effectively may be more complex in this context. Accordingly, the findings indicate that measurement and intervention are likely to be improved by addressing the different levels in this multifaceted phenomenon.



  • Business and Economics


  • Business


Loughborough University

Rights holder

© Ruth Hartley

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Publication date



A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.


  • en


Alistair Cheyne

Qualification name

  • PhD

Qualification level

  • Doctoral