Assessing a national work health and safety policy intervention using the psychosocial safety climate framework

Despite wide support for work health and safety (WHS) public policy interventions, the evaluation of their effectiveness has been largely overlooked. As such, many important policy developments have not been assessed for their impact within jurisdictions and organisations. We aimed to address this research gap by using the Psychosocial Safety Climate (PSC) framework, theory, measurement tool – the PSC-12, and benchmarks - to investigate the impact of a WHS policy intervention, across Australian jurisdictions, that standardised policy approaches (i.e. harmonisation) and legislated the protection of psychological health. PSC refers to a facet of organisational climate that specifically relates to psychological health and safety; it is a predictor of job design and employee health. We investigated perceived organisational PSC across jurisdictions, across time, and contrasted effects between those that did (harmonised) and did not (non-harmonised) adopt the new policy. Results showed Time × Group effects for the global PSC measure, indicating a significant difference over time between the harmonised and non-harmonised jurisdictions. Specifically, PSC levels significantly decreased in the non-harmonised jurisdiction over time. Analysis of PSC subscales showed that a significant decline in management commitment and priority, and communication in relation to employee psychological health, within the non-harmonised group underpinned these effects. We noted no significant overall PSC change across the harmonised jurisdictions, with the exception that participation and consultation of employee psychological health significantly increased. Overall results imply that without harmonisation the PSC levels reduced. Future research should seek more detailed information regarding the implementation of this policy, as well as perspectives from regulator and employer data to compliment results from the PSC-12.

Source: Potter, R. E., Dollard, M. F., Owen, M. S., O'Keeffe, V., Bailey, T., & Leka, S. (2017). Safety Science.

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