Do you see what I see? Effects of national culture on employees’ safety-related perceptions and behaviour.

Growing international trade and globalisation are increasing the cultural diversity of the modern workforce, which often results in migrants working under the management of foreign leadership. This change in work arrangements has important implications for occupational health and safety, as migrant workers have been found to be at an increased risk of injuries compared to their domestic counterparts. While some explanations for this discrepancy have been proposed (e.g., job differences, safety knowledge, and communication difficulties), differences in injury involvement have been found to persist even when these contextual factors are controlled for. The authors argue that employees’ national culture may explain further variance in their safety-related perceptions and safety compliance, and investigate this through comparing the survey responses of 562 Anglo and Southern Asian workers at a multinational oil and gas company. Using structural equation modelling, partial measurement invariance of our measures across cultural groups were established. Estimation of the combined sample structural model revealed that supervisor production pressure was negatively related to willingness to report errors and supervisor support, but did not predict safety compliance behaviour. Supervisor safety support was positively related to both willingness to report errors and safety compliance. Next, evidence of cultural differences in the relationships between supervisor production pressure, supervisor safety support, and willingness to report errors were uncovered. Of note, among Southern Asian employees the negative relationship between supervisor production pressure and willingness to report errors was stronger, and for supervisor safety support, weaker as compared to the model estimated with Anglo employees. Implications of these findings for safety management in multicultural teams within the oil and gas industry are discussed.

Authors: Casey TW, Riseborough KM, Krauss AD. ;Accident Analysis & Prevention. 2015 May;78:173-84. doi: 10.1016/j.aap.2015.03.010. Epub 2015 Mar 16. ;