Managing the Risk of Workplace Stress

By Sharon Clarke; Cary L. Cooper | Go to book overview

Chapter 5

Job stress and work-related accidents

The link between occupational stress and work-related accidents remains a much under-researched area. This chapter reviews the existing evidence. There are two major ways in which occupational stress affects work accidents: direct effects on workers’ behaviour and indirect effects, mediated by employee health and well-being. Table 5.1 overviews the relationships between stress and accident involvement.

As previously suggested in Chapter 3, empirical studies have supported a mediation role for safety climate (workers’ perceptions of the work environment), linking organisational factors to workers’ behaviours (Neal et al. 2000; Griffin et al. 2002; Zohar 2002a; Barling et al. 2002). This represents one pathway by which organisational factors influence accidents, via the safety climate.

Neal et al. (2000) examined the effects of organisational climate on safety performance in an Australian hospital; they found a significant relationship mediated by safety climate. Organisational climate was measured in terms of employees’ perceptions of different aspects of their work environment (appraisal and recognition, goal congruency, role clarity, supportive leadership, participative decision-making, professional growth, professional interaction) and safety climate in terms of employees’ perceptions of management values, communication, training, and safety systems. The results suggest that the influence of general organisational climate is completely mediated by safety climate, as organisational climate did not contribute to performance, once the effects of safety climate had been partialled out.

A number of studies have found that aspects of leadership style are related to safety performance, mediated by safety climate. Zohar (2002a) found that leadership dimensions were significantly

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