Evaluation of psychosocial and organizational factors in offshore safety: a comparative study

K. Mearns, T. Rundmo, Rhona Flin, Rachael P Gordon, M. Fleming

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42 Citations (Scopus)


This study compares UK and Norwegian offshore workers' evaluations of social and organizational factors that can have an impact upon safety on offshore installations. A total of 1138 Norwegian (87% response rate) and 622 UK workers (40% response rate) responded to a self-completion questionnaire, which was distributed to 18 installations in February/March 1994. The questionnaire contained six scales that were suitable and relevant for the purposes of comparison. These scales measured 'risk perception', 'satisfaction with safety measures', 'perceptions of the job situation', 'attitudes to safety', 'perceptions of others' commitment to safety' and 'perceptions of social support'. The data show clear differences in how UK and Norwegian workers evaluate various social and organizational factors that can have an impact upon safety, however, eta 2 analysis indicated that for most of the scales 'installation' explained a greater percentage of the variance than sector. The exceptions to this were scales measuring 'safety attitudes' where both sector and installation contributed equally to the effects. Although the results from the 'safety attitudes' scales should be interpreted with caution (due to low internal reliability), it is possible that they are tapping into more deeply held beliefs about the nature of safety, e.g. 'fatalism' and the 'causes of accidents'. In contrast, the other scales are measuring factors directly related to the working environment such as perceptions of risk and satisfaction with safety measures on the installation. These may reflect the prevailing 'safety climate' or 'atmosphere' on the installations surveyed, whereas constructs such as 'fatalism', etc. may be reflections of underlying 'cultural' values. Recognizing the existence of different 'safety cultures' and understanding the processes which lie behind them could have implications for safety management in an industry which is highly international in nature and in which workers' are often required to work in foreign countries for varying periods of time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)545-561
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Risk Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2004


  • offshore workers
  • risk perception
  • safety attitudes
  • safety culture
  • petroleum platforms
  • behavior
  • climate
  • culture

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