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APPROACHING SAFETY IN THE SWEDISH AND DANISH CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY: PROFESSIONALS’ PERCEPTIONS OF SAFETY CULTURE DIFFERENCES

Journal article
Authors Martin Grill
Regine Grytnes
Marianne Törner
Published in Safety Science Monitor
Volume 19
Issue 2
Pages Article 6
ISSN 1443-8844
Publication year 2015
Published at Institute of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine
Pages Article 6
Language en
Links ssmon.chb.kth.se/volumes/vol19/Issu...
Keywords Occupational safety, Leadership, Safety culture
Subject categories Environmental Health and Occupational Health, Psychology

Abstract

Background: Persistent high accident rates in the construction industry motivate research to improve the understanding of underlying factors affecting safety behaviour and safety outcomes. The Scandinavian countries of Sweden and Denmark are culturally similar but with a considerable difference in accidents rates, especially in construction, and as such offer an opportunity to explore organizational and managerial issues related to safety outcomes. Methods: Semi-structured interviews were carried out with five construction managers and four construction workers in Danish and Swedish construction industry. The transcripts were analysed using semantic thematic analysis. Results: Seven safety related themes were distinguished, conveying safety culture differences between Swedish and Danish construction industry concerning: participatory or directive management; challenge or obey; compliance or non-compliance; cooperation or conflict; caution or cockiness; planning management; and employment security. Interconnections between the thematic areas revealed patterns of interaction between managers and employees, interpreted as process models of participatory and directive safety cultures. Conclusion: This study identifies seven factors perceived by the professionals as related to lower occupational accident rates in the construction industry. Engaging in participatory management, promoting long-term planning and long-term tenures, encouraging cooperation, cautiousness and compliance to rules as well as challenging authorities, were described as connected to successful safety management. These factors may guide further research in the field, as well as safety managers and officials engaged in decreasing accident rates in the construction industry in Scandinavia and elsewhere.

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