Date of Award

1-1-2001

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Health Science

Faculty

Faculty of Communications, Health and Science

First Advisor

Dr Sue Nikoletti

Second Advisor

Gavin Waugh

Abstract

Given the increasing high social and economic costs of occupational injury and illness to the Australian community, identification of initiatives to reduce the burden is urgently required. Paramount to reversing this trend is the need to identify and address the causes of the injury and illness. Employee involvement in occupational health and safety has for some time been espoused as an essential element in any occupational health and safety program, but its relationship with safety performance still remains unexplored. Although various theories suggest that the involvement of employees will increase their sense of ownership, there is little research to suggest that employees have the ability to develop a valid and reliable tool to measure safe practices in the workplace. The primary purpose of this study was to provide preliminary evidence of content and construct validity of an employee developed checklist in measuring compliance with safe behaviours. The second objective was to compare behaviours at two workplaces, one with an incentive scheme to promote safe behaviour and one without. The third objective was to determine the relationships between demographic characteristics of participants and compliance with safe behaviour. The study was conducted in two distinct phases. The first phase was an instrument development phase while the second was an implementation phase. Phase I involved the design of an employee developed checklist (EDC) and a theoretically developed checklist (TDC). Content validity testing was conducted by a panel of five experts in the field of instrument design and occupational health and safety. Phase II involved the observation of a sample of 44 ride on lift truck operators from two large manufacturing and logistics companies based in Victoria, over a three month period to measure compliance with safe work practices. Data was analysed to establish whether the EDC is a valid and reliable tool when compared against the TDC. The results provide preliminary evidence to suggest that employees possess the necessary skill and knowledge to develop a valid observational checklist. A Wilcoxon signed-ranks test for dependent samples indicates that there was no significant difference between the compliance scores recorded on the EDC and the scores recorded on the TDC. Further analysis of scores obtained for three items on the EDC were analysed against similar items on the TDC with no significant deficiencies found. Additionally, analysis of the correlation between the scores obtained on the TDC and EDC revealed a moderately strong positive relationship between the two checklists (r, = 0.414, p=.032). Inter rater reliability testing by intra class correlation and percentage agreement revealed problems with both the EDC and TDC, which may be partially explained by the relatively high level of compliance with safe behaviour at both sites and the method of testing. In this sample, age, gender and the presence of safety incentive schemes had no significant effect on the level of compliance. The level of experience did, however, show a positive relationship with compliance levels (r, = 0.32, p=.048). The results of this study present a number of potential benefits for workplaces including the justification of employee involvement in occupational health and safety measurement, employee involvement in goal setting and the feasibility of developing a proactive, inexpensive and flexible measure of occupational health and safety performance.

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