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Perception, work-life balance key factors in workplace safety, says UGA study
Date:2/17/2012

Athens, Ga. Six thousand workers die on the job in the U.S. each year, and millions more are injured. According to a recent University of Georgia study, a worker's perception of safety in the workplace and the work-life balance established by businesses has a significant effect on on-the-job injury.

"We've known for some time that certain occupations are more dangerous than others due to a variety of physical and other hazards," said Dave DeJoy, UGA professor of health promotion and behavior. "But in the last 20 years, there has been growing evidence that management and organizational factors also play a critical role. That is, actions taken or not taken at the organizational level can either set the stage for injuries or help prevent them."

DeJoy and Todd Smith, a recent graduate of the Health Promotion and Behavior doctoral program in the UGA College of Public Health, authored one of the first studies to examine U.S. safety climate perceptions among a diverse sample of occupations and worker groupsfrom offices to factoriesand to highlight the factors linked to injury. The results were published online in January and will be in the March issue of the Journal of Safety Research.

Companies that run in a smooth and effective manner and have minimal constraints on worker performance can decrease injuries by 38 percent as worker opinions improve, according to survey results. A worker's perception of a positive safety climate can decrease injuries by 32 percent. The safety climate category assessed worker perceptions on the importance of their safety in their work organization.

"We can design the best safety controls, but they must be maintained, and that falls on management," Smith said. "Enacted policies and proceduresnot formalized ones but those acted upondefine a climate of safety."

DeJoy agrees. "Injury is a failure of management. Organizations who blame individuals for injuries do not create a positive s
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Contact: David DeJoy
dmDeJoy@uga.edu
706-542-4368
University of Georgia
Source:Eurekalert

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