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Safety Climate

Last updated: May 13, 2019

What Does Safety Climate Mean?

A safety climate refers to the perceived value that is given to safety considerations within an organization. It is a holistic term that includes corporate policies, management attitudes, and worker beliefs about safety within the workplace.

The concept of safety climate is similar to the concept of safety culture; however, the latter term refers more specifically to the individual attitudes toward safety practice that exist within an organization, whereas safety climate refers to how those attitudes are collectively understood. The two terms are sometimes contrasted as referring to an organization’s “personality” (safety culture) and “mood” (safety climate). The safety climate, like a mood, exists at a given point of time and can change significantly based on the circumstances. The safety culture refers to a more durable set of beliefs and practices that may persist even as the safety climate changes.

Safeopedia Explains Safety Climate

As a perception-oriented concept, the idea of a safety climate is tied significantly to safety promotion. A workplace's safety climate is improved by increasing employee motivation to behave safety, increasing participation in safety programs, increasing awareness of management efforts to support safety, and reducing the number of visible workplace hazards. A positive safety climate increases worker morale and has a positive impact on workplace safety culture by promoting workers’ perception that their workplace is safe, incentivizing their motivation to keep it that way.

Because safety climate refers to a specific moment in time, workplace health and safety experts can use the concept as a method to explore how workplace safety performance changes over time. For instance, if a recurring measurement of a workplace’s safety climate demonstrates an ongoing pattern of fluctuations, it may indicate a problem with that workplace's safety that may not be as readily identifiable through other forms of safety measurement, such as injury records.

A workplace is not legally required to maintain a certain safety climate; however, occupational health authorities do promote the maintenance of a productive safety climate and view it as evidence that an employer is making good faith efforts to keep employees safe. The concept has been well-studied, and there are a number of methodologies for measuring it. As such, the maintenance of a positive safety climate is viewed by health and safety experts as reflecting an organization’s ability to proactively identify and mitigate any hazards that may exist within the workplace.


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