A tale of six climates: Reflections and learnings after the development of six industry-specific safety climate scales

Tristan Casey, Xiaowen Hu, Lisette Kanse, Angelica Varhammar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Researchers are finding merits in utilizing industry-specific safety climate scales that capture the nuances of context, and tend to show stronger associations with safety behavior and outcomes like incidents. Yet, to date, guidance around the practicalities of developing and validating such industry-specific scales is lacking in the safety science literature.

Method: In this paper we outline our experiences developing six industry-specific safety climate scales and highlight strengths and limitations of our approach. We also briefly review the industry-specific safety climate literature and offer highlights for consideration when developing such scales. Our method to develop industry-specific safety climate scales followed an established best practice structure: literature review of existing published industry scales, collation and review of existing scale items, consultation interviews with industry experts, item drafting, exploratory and confirmatory statistical analyses, and finally, a real-world ecological validity test.

Results: Our research highlighted the diversity of safety climate dimensions (both the conceptual and content domains of each dimension) when it is considered at an industry level. Also, the literature reviews revealed a dearth of industry-specific safety climate scales in the areas we engaged with, so our project filled a glaring gap in research and practice. Best practice safety climate scale development methods are provided to stimulate further research.

Conclusions: We conclude with reflections on the nature of safety climate within and across industries, and offer suggestions for future lines of research across other contexts (e.g., national culture, geography, and regulatory settings). We suggest that industry-specific safety climate scales have a specific use case, such as identifying specific areas to improve and evaluating the impact of safety interventions.

Practical Applications: This article provides applications for both applied researchers (to improve capabilities in safety climate scale development) and practitioners who wish to measure organisational safety climate and design effective interventions. Engaging with regulators to build safety climate scales is powerful because their personnel have rich experiences to share across multiple workplaces. Organisational researchers can engage with survey panels to build robust scales. Finally, industry-specific nuances can lead to richer insights into an organisation’s safety climate.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-158
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Safety Research
Early online date23 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022


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