Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Exploring the association between worker engagement and safety behaviours

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posted on 2022-10-13, 13:23 authored by Nicholas Bell

 This study sought to investigate whether and how worker engagement could facilitate changes in how workers define their work roles to promote behaviours which improve safety. Prior to this research, no single study had investigated the influence of engagement on the full spectrum of safety behaviours nor explained the psychosocial mechanisms involved. This research adopted grounded theory as the methodological framework, leading to an inductive approach. Six qualitative studies were conducted over five years, each of which contributed to the development of the theory and the design of the next study to challenge and refine that theory. They are presented chronologically to show the academic journey of the author and evolution of the theory. These studies include literature reviews, surveys, focus groups and interviews conducted with health and safety professionals and academics. The final study, an interview and focus groups with workers and managers, confirmed that data saturation had been achieved by establishing that the model adequately explained the lived experiences and perceptions of participants. This research makes an original contribution to knowledge by creating a novel and functional psychosocial model of engagement and its association with safety behaviour. The model explains how a process of engagement, which relies on fulfilling the needs of workers, might equip workers with the resources and influence their motivation to integrate protective and/or promotive ‘pro-safety’ norms into one or more role definitions and then invest their resources enacting those norms.The research supported the development of an intervention termed ‘person-centred safety’. This offers a structure for facilitating focus groups to gain insights into levels of engagement in safety and underlying, contributory factors. The research led to a model representing different types of organisational culture that emerged during the research, and overviews of the management training needed to build and sustain engagement within those cultures.  



  • School of Sport and Health Sciences

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD

Publication year


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