What Employees Really Think About Safety: Lessons and Trends from Safety Culture Assessments, Leadership Behavior Assessments, and Employee Focus Group Interviews

Thursday, October 17, 2019 • 9:00 a.m. - 9:30 a.m. • Location: Continental Ballroom

steve roberts 144Steve Roberts, Ph.D.
Senior Partner
Safety Performance Solutions

This presentation highlights over 25 years of Safety Culture Assessments, including information from more than 350,000 people from our Safety Culture Survey from hundreds of diverse organizations, structured employee interviews, assessments of safety management systems, and leadership behavior assessments.

Although most employees believe leaders truly care about safety, there are still many behaviors that employees expect of management to help build an ideal safety culture, such as showing up in person at site locations instead of primarily relying on reports from others, getting out of the meeting rooms and into the production/operations/field areas to see first-hand the conditions, equipment, and procedures employees must experience, and ensuring the needed tools/equipment, personnel, and other resources not only allow, but also encourage work to be performed safely.

Comments from employee interviews will also be highlighted, demonstrating a level of emotion and honest feelings employees are sometimes fearful to express directly to management, as well as common misunderstandings between front line employees and organizational leadership.

Understanding employee perceptions and what employees think and feel about critical safety issues is import, because people often base their behaviors on their perceptions of reality, and these perceptions often vary significantly across organizational levels.

Steve is co-founder and senior partner at Safety Performance Solutions, Inc. He earned an M.S. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from West Chester University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Applied/Experimental Psychology with a focus in Organizational Behavior Management from Virginia Tech. His specific areas of expertise include the design, implementation, and evaluation of behavior and people-based safety processes, the assessment of organizational culture to guide safety interventions, increasing employee involvement in safety activities, organizational management systems design, organizational leadership development, and understanding and reducing human error in the workplace.

Before co-founding Safety Performance Solutions in 1995, Dr. Roberts was a research associate with Management Systems Laboratories (MSL) and the Center for Organizational Performance Improvement of the Industrial and Systems Engineering Department of Virginia Tech and safety consultant with Make-A-Difference, Inc. He has taught Research Methods at Virginia Tech, and for five years served as a Project Manager at the Center for Applied Behavior Systems (CABS) of the Psychology Department at Virginia Tech, where he participated in and helped direct graduate and undergraduate research projects which combine the technology of applied behavior analysis with theories from industrial, experimental, and personality psychology to solve real-world problems and improve people's quality of life.

Steve has published articles in a number of peer reviewed academic journals including American Journal of Health Promotion, Applied and Preventive Psychology, Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, and Journal of Safety Research, as well as Safety + Health, Security Management, and People, Land and Water Magazines. Steve authored the book chapter Actively Caring for Occupational Safety: Preventing Injuries with People Based Safety, in Dr. E. Scott Geller’s 2013 book Actively Caring for People: Cultivating a Culture of Compassion. Steve is also lead author for the book chapter Principles of Behavior-Based Safety in the Handbook of Safety Principles, edited by Niklas Möller of Sweden’s Royal Institute of Technology, published in 2018 by John Wiley & Sons,.

Steve was named among the “50 Top Safety Leaders” by Industrial Safety & Hygiene News (ISHN) in 2017, is a regular speaker at both public and corporate sponsored events, and consults with clients across all industry types. Some of Steve’s consulting clients include ExxonMobil, Newmont Mining, Alpha Natural Resources, Owens Corning, Specialty Granules, JSR Micro, Boart Longyear, Pratt & Whitney, Marathon Petroleum, The Hershey Company, and the U.S. Navy. Steve has taught the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) Seminarfest course People-Based Safety each of the last 13 years, most recently in January 2018.