Perception of safety culture in the trucking industry
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Safety research stresses the importance of achieving similar perceptions regarding the importance of safety to realize a strong culture while at the same time, acknowledges that employees may vary in their safety perceptions. Despite the recognition of this problem, the effect that safety issues have upon various hierarchical levels is not differentiated. Data for this study were drawn from 116 trucking firms, stratified by three safety performance levels. The data were collected from drivers (lowest hierarchical level), dispatchers (medium hierarchical level), and safety directors (highest hierarchical level), regarding their perceptions of their corporate safety cultures. Perceptions of safety culture were analyzed through a linear regression using dummy variables to differentiate the three hierarchical groups. The resulting model allowed for examination of the specific antecedents of safety culture for each hierarchical employee group and the extent to which the hierarchical groups were in agreement with each other. Driver fatigue training, driver opportunity for safety input, and top management commitment to safety were perceived to be integral determinants of safety culture in all three groups. Trucking firms seeking to strengthen their employees' perceptions of safety culture might logically begin by improving these three safety issues. The fourth safety practice examined, driver autonomy, was not found to be instrumental in shaping safety culture for any of the three hierarchical levels. In addition, it should be recognized that various employee groups within the firm are influenced by some practices more than others (e.g., drivers' perceptions of safety culture are more influenced by top management commitment and driver fatigue training).