Journal article

Psychosocial safety climate: Conceptual distinctiveness and effect on job demands and worker psychological health

15 Jan 2012

Psychosocial safety climate is an emerging construct that refers to shared perceptions regarding policies, practices, and procedures for the protection of worker psychological health and safety. The purpose of the research was to: (1) demonstrate that psychosocial safety climate is a construct distinct from related climate measures (i.e., physical safety climate, team psychological safety, and perceived organizational support); and (2) test the proposition that organizational psychosocial safety climate determines work conditions (i.e., job demands) and subsequently worker psychological health. We used samples from two different cultures; an Australian sample (= 126 workers in 16 teams within a primary health care organization) and a Malaysian sample (= 180 workers in 31 teams from different organizations and diverse industries). In both samples confirmatory factor analysis verified that psychosocial safety climate is a construct distinct from related climate measures. Using hierarchical linear modeling, psychosocial safety climate was superior to other team level climate measures in its negative relationship to both job demands and psychological health problems. Results supported a mediation process, psychosocial safety climate → job demands → psychological health problems, corroborating psychosocial safety climate as a preeminent stress risk factor, and an efficient target for intervention. We found both physical and psychosocial safety climates were stronger in the Australian, compared with the Malaysian work context. Levels of psychosocial safety climate were significantly lower than those of physical safety climate in both countries indicating a ‘universal’ lack of attention to workplace psychological health.

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