How Companies Respond to New Safety Regulations: A Canadian Investigation

By Saari, J.; Bedard, S. et al. | International Labour Review, January 1, 1993 | Go to article overview

How Companies Respond to New Safety Regulations: A Canadian Investigation


Saari, J., Bedard, S., Dufort, V., Hryniewiecki, J., Theriault, G., International Labour Review


INTRODUCTION

New occupational safety and health regulations are aimed primarily at improving conditions in workplaces with poor safety records. They might therefore be presumed to improve the performance of substandard companies more than that of initially safer companies. But does this happen? Since new regulations often translate into a need for organizational innovation in target companies, this question raises the more general issue of how companies assimilate externally induced innovation.

According to the model of innovation assimilation presented by Meyer and Goes (1988), the outcome of the assimilation process is determined by "innovation" attributes and "contextual" attributes operating both independently and interactively. In the case of a product or process innovation introduced of a company's own volition, for example, the main incentive to change is likely to be the prospect of higher profits, i.e. an innovation attribute. But safer working conditions are not normally expected to generate more business or reduce costs. Assimilation of an innovation in this field is therefore more likely to be determined by contextual attributes, such as a company's predisposition to change based on past experience and economic or organizational constraints.(1)

However, the most important determinant of a company's response to new safety regulations appears to be its existing safety culture. This can be defined as a combination of the importance the company attaches to safety, on the one hand, and its ability and willingness to take effective action, on the other. Indeed, because of the mandatory nature of compliance with statutory safety requirements-as opposed to the voluntary introduction of a directly profitable innovation-a company may be more or less responsive to new safety regulations. If its initial commitment to safety is strong, it will probably do its best to apply the new regulations conscientiously. But if its commitment is weak, the company will probably try to find short cuts.

This is confirmed by Marcus's study (1988a, b) on the introduction of nuclear safety regulations in the United States: incident rates declined more sharply in initially safer plants than in the less safe plants. In fact, plants that were originally found to have the worst safety records did not improve at all. It appears that better plants had enough self-confidence to work out a customized response to the new requirements, often going beyond the statutory minimum standards, while marginal plants complied with the new regulations mechanically, disregarding the relevance of specific rules to their own situation.

It follows that companies with a stronger safety culture are more likely to opt for an internally oriented assimilation strategy aimed at customized change, while those with a weaker safety culture tend to go for an externally oriented strategy involving minimum compliance. While the first category understands the rewards associated with implementation, the second is largely guided by the threat of penalties.

The innovation looked at in this study is the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) recently introduced in Canada. Under WHMIS regulations companies are required, inter alia, to establish a special information system on hazardous materials and to ensure that all their employees are given training in hazard prevention and control at the workplace.(2) The purpose of this article is to show how companies manufacturing transportation equipment and machinery in Quebec responded to the new requirements, and to examine possible explanations for the differences observed.

The three postulates under investigation are: (a) that companies with a strong safety culture and readiness for change prefer an internally organized training programme; (b) that companies with a weak safety culture and less readiness for change end up using outside experts to teach their employees; and (c) that business problems and/or anticipated major changes in production lead to incomplete compliance with regulations. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

How Companies Respond to New Safety Regulations: A Canadian Investigation
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.