Safety climate and increased risk: The role of deadlines in design work

Kevin Daniels, Nick Beesley, Alistair Cheyne, Varuni Wimalasiri

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4 Citations (Scopus)
8 Downloads (Pure)


Although much research indicates positive safety climate is associated with reduced safety risk, we argue this association is not universal and may even be reversed in some contexts. Specifically, we argue that positive safety climate can be associated with increased safety risk when there is pressure to prioritize production over safety and where workers have some detachment from the consequences of their actions, such as found in engineering design work. We used two indicators of safety risk: use of heuristics at the individual level and design complexity at the design team level. Using experience sampling data (N = 165, 42 design teams, k = 5752 observations), we found design engineers’ perceptions of team positive safety climate were associated with a less use of heuristics when engineers were not working to deadlines, but more use of heuristics when engineers were working to deadlines. Independent ratings were obtained of 31 teams’ designs of offshore oil and gas platforms (N = 121). For teams that worked infrequently to deadlines, positive team safety climate was associated with less design complexity. For teams that worked frequently to deadlines, positive team safety climate was associated with more design complexity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1185-1207
Number of pages23
JournalHuman Relations
Issue number5
Early online date3 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - May 2016


  • Safety climate
  • Job demands
  • oil and gas industry
  • design work

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