Safety risk culture at a coal logistics company : a perspective from the coalface
Mthiyane, Pearl Ntombizanele
MetadataShow full item record
Achieving zero harm in heavily mechanised industries seems unattainable if a weak safety risk culture prevails. Embedding safety risk indicators in an organisation strengthens safety risk culture and improves safety performance. Academic literature focuses on safety culture that acknowledges compliance with safety policies and procedures; it omits safety risk culture which, in this study, is defined as the perceived level of inclusion of safety risk in decision-making. This study assessed the perceived safety risk culture at a coal logistics company, using a questionnaire-based survey for data collection. The study targeted a population of 518 employees. With a 36% response rate (n = 188), this study revealed a misalignment in safety risk culture perceptions between management and non-management, and across departments. This result contradicts the outcomes of two-yearly safety culture surveys conducted in-house by the company that indicated alignment and maturity of its safety culture. However, with distribution scores of 4.2 and 3.8 out of 5 for management and non-management, respectively, an overall high level of perceived safety risk integration in decision-making was established. Higher perceptions in the General Management, Finance, Engineering, and Health, Safety, Environment and Compliance departments compared to Human Resources, Operations and Maintenance reinforce the misalignment in safety risk culture. Company and contractor management are aligned on safety risk culture, with similar safety risk integration score of 4.2 out of 5. The workforce is aligned with high levels of comfort with own safety risk management roles. Operations and Maintenance had the highest return of “I do not know” responses. There is no collective, shared safety risk culture in the organisation. To strengthen the organisation’s safety risk culture, accountability for including safety risk in decision-making, communication, shared understanding and inclusion of safety risk in decision-making must be improved, prioritising Operations and Maintenance. Future research on safety risk culture perceptions at the coalface can incorporate non-English-speaking contractors at operator level, excluded in this study, who represent approximately 40% of the workforce.