What is Safety Climate?

Safety climate in construction refers to management’s and workers’ shared perceptions of the extent to which the company values, expects, reinforces, and rewards jobsite safety.

At a 2013 workshop on safety climate/culture in construction, CPWR — The Center for Construction Research and Training along with many industry stakeholders identified eight key leading indicators of jobsite safety climate in construction.  By focusing on the leading indicators of safety climate rather than lagging indicators like injury rates, companies have the ability to pinpoint areas needing improvement to proactively prevent accidents and improve future safety outcomes.

The 8 Leading Indicators of Safety Climate (Each is listed accordion style).

All of these worksheets are contained in a workbook CPWR developed which you can download for free. For bound color copies contact Ms. Sherri Wilson (Swilson@cpwr.com)

The 8 Leading Indicators of Safety Climate

Management commitment to keeping workers safe is demonstrated through their words and actions and is critical for establishing and maintaining a positive safety climate.  Just saying “safety is #1!” does not automatically translate into a positive safety climate.

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Safety must be integrated into all company activities to ensure it is valued as much as all other business functions.  This occurs when management clearly and consistently communicates safety expectations.  The commitment to safety is demonstrated by never compromising it for productivity.

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Everyone involved in a construction project should be held accountable for safety; including, the contractors’ safety personnel and supervisors, and workers. Specific responsibilities for implementing safety need to be clearly defined at all levels, appropriate for an individual’s role, and communicated and reinforced throughout the organization regularly.

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Supervisors and foremen have the authority, and ability, to make changes and correct hazards on the jobsite.  How they lead, act as role models, and communicate are important for creating a strong, positive safety climate.

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Involving workers in safety-related planning and decision making and encouraging them to discuss potential hazards will improve  the communication between workers and management, build trust, and promote a positive safety climate that is important to getting the job done.

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How an organization formally and informally communicates about safety through words and actions can have a significant impact on the jobsite safety climate. Effective safety-related communication can create a strong positive climate, while poor communication can stifle it. Good communication involves both talking and listening.

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The best way to ensure that all employees know and understand where and how they can work to improve work-site climate is to provide ongoing, effective training for specific roles and responsibilities in the company.

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Project owners/clients have the authority to develop and issue project policies, shape bid practices, and approve budgets – all of which, if done with a focus on safety, can result in an excellent safety climate and project performance.

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Dimeo Construction Company

- Corporate Safety Director

“The outcome of completing the S-CAT at our company has illuminated specific areas for improvement, through the use of objective analytics.  These analytics will foster a respectful conversation amongst the project stakeholders (i.e. contract partners, building trades, owner) resulting in the identification of mutually agreed upon interventions towards which appropriate resources can be allocated.”

American Contractors Insurance Group

- Sr. Safety Consultant

“The S-CAT offers contractors regardless of size, the opportunity to find out – at no cost  – what employees at all levels think of the company’s safety climate and culture and whether there are gaps in that perception.  To successfully use the S-CAT, companies should follow a plan for why they are conducting the S-CAT, implementing the survey and communicating the results. Most importantly to the success of the S-CAT is to communicate what positive findings that are uncovered as well as the opportunities and changes will be made based on the findings.  I would also recommend that The S-CAT should be completed at least every 2 years for comparison and continuous improvement.”

Willis Insurance

- VP of Construction

“We have used the S-CAT model for our construction insurance captive with great success. Owners of the construction companies were enthusiastic to use the results of these leading indicators to improve their company’s safety culture in their drive to safety excellence.”

Safway Services, LLC


“Having the ability to assess the safety climate of our jobsites using the S-CAT was critical for letting us know how and where to best use resources for continual improvement.  The S-CAT report allowed us to benchmark our supervisors understand of our policies/programs and their perceptions of our overall safety culture.  Our employees were pleased to be engaged and asked for their feedback.”

Take the S-CAT today and get started on improving your safety climate!