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B5.1 A Longitudinal Study of Workplace Organizational Factors and Injury Rates-Gilbert JW, Shannon HS

The current research follows up and expands previous work which compared, cross-sectionally, organizational aspects of firms with their workers' compensation lost time frequency rates (LTFR). The unit of analysis was the workplace. Specific areas investigated were organizational structure and philosophy, organizational philosophy on occupational health and safety, the role of labor markets and unions, the internal responsibility system, perceived risk and physical conditions, and financial performance and profitability. Data on these areas were captured via a survey of management and labor at each workplace and related to LTFR.

Among the factors found to be related to lower LTFR in the initial research were: concrete demonstration by management of commitment to safety; greater involvement of workers in general decision making; greater willingness of the joint health and safety committee to solve problems internally; and greater experience of the workforce.

At the time of writing, data have been obtained on the subsequent LTFR for these workforces, a follow up of 10 years. Analysis is beginning to answer several questions:

1) Were there important changes or trends in LTFR over the 10 years of follow-up at these workplaces.?

2) Were there significant changes or trends in non-lost-time injury rates?

3) Was there a significant change in the severity of injuries reported over the follow-up period by workplace, initial injury rate, or by type of industry?

4) Was there an important change in the types of injuries reported over the follow-up period by workplace, initial injury rate, or by type of industry?

5) Did the workplace characteristics at the start of follow-up period predict the subsequent patterns of LTFR?

Results of the analyses will be presented at the symposium. A brief discussion of the initial and current research will be given and conclusions presented.


B5.2 When am I My Brother's Keeper? Defining Others' Safety and Well-Being as In-Role Versus Extra-Role Behavior-Hofmann DA, Morgeson FP

Extra-role behaviors, or organizational citizenship behaviors, have been well researched within the organizational sciences. Essentially, these behaviors constitute actions that are not formally prescribed, but which individuals perform in order to help the organization be more effective. In this study, we focused on safety-related citizenship behaviors; namely, safety-related behaviors that deal with helping others within a work team perform more safely. Examples of these behaviors included voicing concern for others' safety-related performance, suggesting improvements in organizational procedures to make them more safe, coaching fellow team members that safety violations will not be tolerated, etc.

The primary focus of the study was an investigation of when employees perceive these safety-related citizenship behaviors to be part of their formal job responsibilities (i.e., in-role) versus above and beyond the call of duty (i.e., extra-role). The results indicated that organizational (e.g., organizational justice), leadership climate (e.g., leader-subordinate relations, leader openness), team (e.g., effective working relationships among team members), and safety climate factors (e.g., management commitment to safety) were associated with defining these behaviors as more in-role. Furthermore, employees that rated these behaviors as more in-role were more likely to engage in these behaviors. The implications for building a safe and learning oriented culture are discussed.


B5.3 Work Organization and Health: The CAW/McMaster Benchmarking Project-Lewchuk WA, Robertson D (Withdrawn)

Research over the last ten years has placed work organization on a par with exposure to dangerous substances and exposure to biomechanical risks in understanding work related health outcomes. Building on the pioneering work of Karasek & Theorell (1990) studies have linked work organization with hypertension, musculoskeletal injuries, migraines, and psychological distress (Wilkins & Beaudet 1998). Lewchuk & Robertson 1996&1997 have been particularly concerned with the impact of lean production on the health of workers.

This paper will present results from two ongoing projects that further this research.

One project is using the original survey instrument developed in 1996 and 1997 in plants in the United States, Britain, Japan and Mexico. The number of surveys in the data base exceeds 10,000 from more than thirty different workplaces. Analysis of this data provides an international profile of working conditions as well as insights into the relationship between the elements of lean production and health and safety conditions. Here the focus is on work loads, control, relations with management and levels of stress and exposure to ergonomic risks.

A second project is revisiting the Canadian workplaces originally surveyed in 1996 and 1997. It involves a psychosocial job characteristics survey plus casual and ambulatory blood pressure readings from a large sample of employees drawn from up to 20 different workplaces in the automobile sector. We will explore whether the health risks revealed by our "subjective" psychosocial job characteristics survey data are consistent with the health risks revealed by our "objective" biological data. We will search for correlations between different work organization characteristics and "subjective" and "objective" measures of health risks. Finally, we will examine health risk profiles of different workplaces and how they are correlated with work organization characteristics.


B5.4 Unintended Consequences: Organizational Practices and Their Impact on Health and Safety-Kaminski MA

Managers often implement new organizational practices in order to improve firm performance, while neglecting possible side effects. Using data from 84 small manufacturing firms, this study examines the relationship between 6 organizational practices and both productivity and injury rates. The organizational practices include four human resource (HR) management practices and two organizational design factors.

The first HR practice, performance-based pay, compensates employees not just on the number of hours worked (wages) but also on some measure of productivity or performance. Performance-based pay is associated with significantly higher lost time injury rates, but contrary to expectations, with lower productivity. The second HR practice, the use of temporary employees, was marginally related to higher injury rates and unrelated to productivity. Third, the use of overtime was associated with lower productivity, but contrary to predictions, was also significantly associated with lower injury rates. The fourth HR practice had the most positive results:  the number of hours of training was associated with lower lost time injuries and higher productivity.

Two organizational design factors were also considered. Teams were marginally associated with lower lost time injury rates, but were unrelated to productivity in this sample. The use of a production line was significantly associated with higher injuries, consistent with other work.

While managers may implement these various organizational practices in search of higher performance, only one of these factors-training-yielded these results. However, the choice of practices potentially have an impact on workers' health. Performance-based pay, the use of temporary employees, and the use of a production line were all associated with higher injury rates. In contrast, training, teams, and overtime were associated with lower injury rates. The paper also discusses the potential interaction between hazard controls and organizational practices.


B5.5 Organizational Factors and Return to Work Following Lost-Time Injury-Cole DC, Brooker AS, Clarke JC

Return to work (RTW) programs have rarely been formally evaluated. We present two complementary studies, a jurisdiction-wide prospective prognostic cohort and a cross-employer qualitative study. At the time, experience-rating of employers' premiums was only partially implemented. Workers' Compensation (WC) legislation stipulated that employers of >20 employees were required to re-employ injured workers, who were able to perform the essential duties of their pre-injury employment, and to adapt the work or the workplace for the worker as needed, provided no undue hardship to the employer resulted.

The cohort was a random sample of WC claimants with a work-related soft-tissue injury who completed a baseline interview within 21 days of their accident date (n=1833). During this interview and the follow-up year, injured workers were asked about workplace offers of arrangements to help them return to work. Only a minority (36%) received such offers, more commonly from larger employers in particular sectors. Offers were unrelated to workers' pain levels. Most arrangements consisted of temporary modifications such as reduced (24%) or flexible (25%) work hours or a lighter job (57%), rather than more permanent changes to layout or equipment (8%) or job design. Offers of arrangements were associated with reduced WC temporary total benefit duration.

In the qualitative study, 17 persons from workplaces with RTW programs were interviewed. Sessions were tape recorded, the tapes transcribed and coded based for 'barriers to' and 'facilitators of' successful RTW. Workplace factors affecting RTW included the origins, composition and management of RTW programs, physical factors related to work and the production process, communication within the workplace and the overall organizational climate. Throughout, careful consideration of the collective agreement and full involvement of labor in the creation, coordination and problem-solving of the RTW program were regarded as important.




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Page last updated: March 2001
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Content Source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Division of Safety Research