1 AMERICAN JOURNAL OF INDUSTRIAL MEDICINE 29: (I 996) Workplace Organizational Correlates of Lost-Time Accident Rates in Manufacturing Harry 5. Shannon, PhD, Vivienne Waiters, PhD, Wayne Lewchuk, PhD, Jack Richardson, PhD, Lea Anne Moran, BA, Ted Haines, MD, MS~, and Dave Verma, PhD We report the rcsiilts of LI yut~.stionrruirr.survry of mutiufacturirig workplaces relcited to the lost-rime,frequency rates (LTFR),fhr Workers' Conipen.satioti daims. Six types of industry wero c:ho.sen: mcml articles, plastic articles, grain products, textile mcinilfactiiring. printing, wid ctutomobile manufacturing. LTFR were stciridardized by type of industry. Striit(fiitig simultaneously by number of eniployees urid LTFR ccitegop, \tie sampled 718 workplaces. A mail qiiestiorinnire to labor and maimgenietit tupreseritiitir~es pro\ided cit least some inforniritiori on 58%. Respotw rtites rvere similar Iicross LTFR critegories, trnd telephone intertieuvs qf' tiori-re.sporider.s shobved little dijfereiwe in their replies froin hse ohtuined in completed yut~stioiiiitiires. A large number of imriiibles ii'ere exariiiried. Apart frorti statistical significance, ue 1ooked))r cmsisteiicy in trmr1.s (icross LTFR cutc~~orie.s rind in patterns ji)r similtir questions. Significant associations grouped into several arecis. Lower LTFR btjere associated btith: concrete d~.nrori.stratiori t>.v mcitrugetnent of its concern,jhr the rtwrkjiwce; greuter involvement of' workers in gerierd decision-makirig: greater willingness of the Joint Health and Safety Comniirtee to solve problrnis interncrlly; urid greuter e.vperience (f the workforce. Variables thut bvere trot signiticunt included and,fitiiincial perfi)t-= m(inw. A.finul sleprvise multiple rqressiori explciitied 19% (J'the vciricirrce in LTFR, cillhough this analysis sufered from several limitiitions WtIc~yLi.c.c.. Itr(.. KEY WORDS: workplace organization, accidents, Workers' Compensation, lost-time claim rates, health and safety committees, manu factwing, questionnaire survey INTRODUCTION Until recently, occupational health and safety (OHS) hac been viewed priniarily as a technical and medical phenomenon which can be improved by better engineering and some monitoring of workers and worksites. Thus. machine Occupational Health Program, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada (H.S.S.. T.H., 0.V). Department of Sociology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada (V.W.. J.R.). Labour Studies Program, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada (V.W., W.L.). Department of Economics, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada (W.L.). Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada (H.S.S., L.A.M.. T.H.). Institute for Work and Health, Toronto, Canada (H.S.S.). Address reprint requests to Harry S. Shannon, Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics. McMaster University, 1200 Main St. West, HSC 2C15, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada L8N 325. Accepted for publication March 6, 1995 guarding, containment of contaminants, hiological tnonitoring. etc.. have been the primary means for protecting workers. General principles were outlined by Haddon 1 I9701 and included strategies such as preventing the creation of the hazard in the first place or separating workers in time or space from any hazards. Given this and recent cfforts on OHS in the last years. one might well ask why safety (certainly as measured by Workers' Compensation [WC] lost-time claim rates) does not appear to he improving, at least not substantially. In Ontario, Canada, for example, fatality rates and total claim rates declined between 1978, when a new Act took effect, and IYYO. However, lost-time claim rates declined little over that period-although they have dropped more since then. presumably due to the recession and its effect on high-risk industries [Workplace Health and Safety Agency, Literature Review Increasing interest has been shown in the possible role of workplace organization. In the 1970s. two U.S. studies Wiley-Liss, Inc.
2 Workplace Organization and Accident Rates 2 59 were reported. Shafai-Sahrai [ I9731 found lower accident rates in workplaces with older, more senior workforces. Top management was more likely to be actively involved in safety. and housekeeping was better. Cohen et al. [ conducted a small study, so most factors were not significantly related to lower accident rates. Nevertheless, they described as suggestive several characteristics that were associated with lower accident rates, including: an older, more senior workforce; good housekeeping: the existence of a safety committee; an active role of top management in safety; and consideration of safety in issues such as planning or equipment purchasing. We have found no other comparative studies of even a moderate number of companies until the late 1980s. Habeck et al , observed lower WC claim rates in workplaces with: lower turnover/more seniority of the workforce; empowerment of workers; profit-sharing; an active role of top management in safety; provision of modified work; and systematic monitoring and correction of unsafe behaviors. A second study from this team [Hunt et al., found that Safety Diligence and a pro-active return-to-work program were related to lower WC claim rates. As well. a peopleoriented culture was associated with lower WC payments. Recent analyses of data on Joint Health and Safety Committees (JHSC) in Ontario and Quebec (Canada) were reported by Tuohy and Simard [ In Ontario. experienced, stable workforces tended to have lower WC claim rates. as did workforces with greater JHSC capacity (undertaking of a wide range of activities, training of committee members, etc.) and bipartism. In Quebec, WC rates were related to seniority of the workforce and development of human resources management and OHS. Other factors, such as functional conformity of the JHSC to t k legal model of JHSC, showed opposite results in different sub-samples. By their nature, these studies are not perfect. Methodological issues include the cross-sectional designs used, relatively low response rates. and the validity of the outcome measures used. As well, each study developed its own questionnaire, apparently without validation or reliability testing-although accomplishing these would be extremely time-consuming and difficult. Our own study, developed independently, used similar methodology to these reports. Compared with the total literature on OHS. these studies are few in number. Our study adds to this limited literature. and investigates the relationships between workplace organization and WC lost-time accident rates. Terminology Before proceeding, we note some potential confusion in terminology. In our usage. workplace organization, refers to policies, procedures. and attitudes at the worksite level, such as management priorities or activities in health and safety. Work organization, on the other hand, is used to describe conditions applicable at the itidividual level, such as span of control, psychological demands, etc. [Karasek and Theorell, Workplace organization will strongly influence work organization-but we will concentrate on the former. Setting We conducted our study in the province of Ontario in Canada in OHS has had a comparatively high profile in recent years. In 1976, a Royal Commission on OHS in miners was published [Ham, 19761, followed shortly thereafter by a new Occupational Health and Safety Act. Since then, other laws and regulations have come into effect-in particular, JHSC have been mandated for a wide variety of workplaces. These committees are intended to help fulfil the philosophy of internal responsibility, which has been an important basis of the legislation. Thus, JHSC comprise both worker and management representatives. The Ontario Workers Compensation Board (WCB) runs a no-fault insurance system which pays medical costs and a proportion of wages lost for workers injured on the job. The general principles are similar to those in other North American jurisdictions. although there is no private insurance. A portion of premiums funds several safety associations, the largest of which is the Industrial Accident Prevention Association (IAPA). It covers the manufacturing and retail sectors. Our study, funded by the IAPA, was limited to these sectors; in this report we describe results in manufacturing. The companies in this sector are divided into rate groups, based on finer industrial categories, such as steelmaking, automobile manufacturing, or textile production. Basic WC premiums are set for each rate group; increasingly, forms of experience rating are being instituted-companies can be assessed higher premiums or receive refunds depending on the cost of claims from their workforce. 0 bjectives The priniary objective of the study was to develop an in-depth comparative profile of member companies of the IAPA with excellent, good and poor safety performance, and to identify similarities and differences, if any, between the three groups. More specifically, we were interested in organizational culture: management s philosophy; its perception of the importance of health and safety (H&S); its commitment to H&S: worker involvement in H&S; H&S training; financial status; etc. The primary approach was to conduct a survey whose results could be matched to safety performance (as mea-
3 260 Shannon et al. wed by compensation claim rates for lost-time injuries). In addition, for a small number of companies, we held interviews with personnel in several key roles. This latter component will not be described here-it is the subject of a qeparate report. MATERIALS AND METHODS Questionnaire Wc developed a mail questionnaire to capture information in the areas of interest. In several areas we had theoretical constructs (e.g., organizational theory) to use in identifying specific topics about which we should ask. On other occasions. we wrote questions based on the aims of the study or our previous knowledge of the areas under investigation. We also made use of a survey reported in 1986 of Joint Health and Safety Committees in Ontario [SPR, We made a distinction between companies and workplaces. Questionnaires were to be sent to individual workplaces and questions were written accordingly. Separate questionnaires for management and workers were constructed. We divided the questionnaire for nianagement into three sections. Appropriate respondents were. respectively, the senior manager. the human resources (personnel) manager, and the management co-chair of the JHSC. The questionnaires for workers was directed to the worker co-chair of the JHSC. Some questions were identical in the worker and management questionnaires. Pilot Study We elected to survey 60 workplaces with over 50 employees each. and sent the questionnaire to them. The response rate was quite low, although debricfings from several respondents. as well as other returned questionnaires, provided useful feedback. As a result of the pilot study and comments from some key informants, a number of revisions were made and the final version of the questionnaire was produced. Sampling Procedure In order to achieve an estimate of the distribution of workplace rates, we used 1988 WCB data of lost-time frequency rates (LTFR) and the estimate of the number of employees for each workplace. Sometimes we had to use the LTFR for the company as a whole since companies with several sites vary in their reporting methods. We restricted ourselves to workplaces with over 50 employees, and considered only rate groups with at least 20 workplaces of this size. In addition, we divided workplaces into those with employees and those with over 100. We sclected six rate groups: metal articles, plastic articles, grain products, textile manufacturing. printers, and automobile manufacturing. We calculated the LTFR from 1986 to 1988 for each workplace as a percentage of its rate group average, and classified the result as high if greater than 150%. as low if less than SO%, and medium otherwise. After stratifying within each rate group by size and LTFR, we randomly chose 770 workplaces. Sample Size Using formulae and tables given by Cohen [ 1988) for compariwns of categorical data, we noted that with a 7S% response rate, we would have over 50% power to observe what Cohen calls ii small effect, and close to 100% power (using a significance level of 5%) to observe a medium effect. With sub-groups of 200 workplaces, the power would be 97% for medium effects. We considered these adequate. Conduct of the Survey The questionnaires were mailed with a cover letter. which included a request to pass on the questionnaires to the largest workplace in the company, if the address we had was that of a head office. Two reminder letters were sent and telephone calls made to urge response. Some workplaces were discovered to be ineligible. Telephone Interviews We decided to attempt some telephone interviews to check for possible bias in the answers we had received. A short list of questions from the original survey was selected. Wc believed those who were too busy to complete the full questionnaire would at least he prepared to answer this selection. Experienced, trained interviewers were hired and asked to telephone 207 workplaces randomly sampled from the non-respondents. Data Analysis Preliminary data analysis of. e.g.. frequency distributions enabled correction of some errors and grouping of variables. e.g.. those on a seven-point scale were reduced to three categories, each containing as equal a number of responses as possible. Comparisons between the telephone interview responses and the questionnaire data were made by examining 2xK contingency tables for the relevant variables. (K was the number of categories after grouping.) Cohen s effect size was used to estimate how different the distributions were [Cohen For the main survey data contingency tables were
4 Workplace Organization and Accident Rates 26 1 drawn up cross-tabulating the categorization of companies by LTFR with each variable and created variable. Since the 1989 LTFR data were available at this stage for most of our sample and the questionnaire data generally referred to that year, we used the new data in our analyses. The computer output (using the SPSS-X package) gave two chi-square statistics and a test of linear trend. These were used to screen the large number of variables for their association with LTFR. When appropriate, comparisons of means were made using one-way analysis of variance. Variables (within major groups) that were significant at the 0.2 level were entered into a multiple regression. The outcome variable was the LTFR (as a percentage of the overall rate group LTFR) and six potential confounders were forced into the model: unionized workplace (yesho). proportion of skilled workers who were women, proportion of semi or unskilled workers who were women, proportion of employees aged over 50, proportion of employees with less than 2 years service, and the proportion of employees fluent in English. Variables that remained significant were.entered jointly into a stepwise regression to determine a final model (again forcing in the confounders). Presentation of Data Given the large number of variables analyzed. we have necessarily been selective in presentation in this report. We plan to provide more details in further publications. A comprehensive report is available on request. RESULTS Response Replies were received from 435/770 (56%;) companies. However, when we received the tape containing claim rates for 1989, we discovered that 52 companies were no longer listed-presumably due to going out of business, moving outside Ontario, or perhaps changing name following takeover. Thus some of our original 770 were ineligible, and we do not know which. The 718 still listed \$ ere eligible, and we have used data on them to examine the response rates in the LTFR categories (Table I). At least one of the four questionnaires was returned by 416 of these 718 (58%). (Response rates for each questionnaire ranged from 43% for each of management co-chairs and human resources managers to 52% for worker co-chairs.) Importantly, the proportions were similar across the three LTFR categories (56%. 5976, 58% for the low. medium, high categories. respectively). We have used data from all 435 respondents in our analysis. TABLE 1. Responses by Lost-Time Frequency Rate Category* Losl-time frequency rale category Low Medium High Total Number of eligible workplaces in samplea Responses % Response Any of the 4 questionnaires returned. aworkplaces known to be eligible (see text for details) Comparison Between Mail and Telephone Responses The response to the telephone questionnaire of non responders was 714 from management and 42% from workers. For management responses, the majority of effect sizes -of the difference between mail and telephone responses-were less than 0. I. considered small by Cohen [ 1988, Chapter 71. Only two were over 0.2. Of the 12 questions to workers, 2 had effect sires over 0.2, 7 between 0. I and 0.19, and 3 below 0.1. The response to our mail questionnaire was lower than we hoped, but it was an excellent response for a survey of this type. The relatively small differences between mail and telephone responses and, more particularly, the similarity of response proportions across the three LTFR categories give us confidence that comparisons of companies with different LTFR are valid. Basic Workplace Demographics Overall results for a few key variables are described below. The reader is cautioned that. because of the nature of the sampling (restriction to certain rate groups and stratification by size and LTFR), we cannot generalize these data to all manufacturing workplaces in Ontario. Forty-one percent of sites were subsidiaries of a larger corporation, while a 25% each were either family concerns or had closely held shares. The remainder were corporate enterprises with widely held shares. Turnover in 1989 was less than 5% for two-fifths of sites, but over 20% for 12%. Part-time employees during the year comprised less than 10% of the total workforce in over 95% of sites. In one in seven workplaces, over half the employees were not fluent in English. When asked about the degree of cooperation or conflict between management and labor, both parties reported high levels of cooperation. The degree of worker participation was moderate; management perceived it to be higher than did labor.
5 262 Shannon et al. TABLE 11. Indicators of Profitability and Financial Performance: Mean Values by Lost-Time Frequency Rate (LTFR) Category Variable low Medium High P Profitability (last 5 years): 1 = signif. less; 5 = signif. more than normal Capacity utilization: 1 = <80%; 3 = >95% Five-year change in full-time employment: 1 = reduced >20% 5 = increased >20% Share of output exported: 1 = t5%: 4 = >50% a H&S responsibilities were defined in the job descriptions of all managers in roughly half of the workplaces, and the majority had a part- or full-time H&S coordinator. Sixty percent of companies had personnel with special training in OHS. On specific measures to ensure H&S, management considered worker attitudes. protective equipment. and worker participation the most important. The latter two were also judged important by labor. Both parties gavc lower importance to external pressures, such as the prospect of adverse publicity for thc company. JHSC had a wide range of duties, although advisory and reactive functions were more common than an executive role. Both management and worker members of the committees spent an average of 7-8 hr per month on JHSC business. Housekeeping and machine hazards were the most common ones that they had investigated. JHSC were generally very cooperative, with substantial agreement on issues raised. It was very rare for worker members not to pursue an issue because correction might be too costly, and the potential adverse consequences of raising a H&S issue or filing a WC claim were generally judged to be low. Relationships With LTFR Financial performance and profitability There was little evidence of a relationship between LTFR and financial status (Table 11). Slightly higher protits were associated with lower LTFR, but the relationship was not significant. A significant relationship was found with capacity utilization. Management and labor generally agreed that H&S was about as important as competitiveness and profitability. Workforce characteristics Sites with lower claim rates had significantly more older workers (Table 111). On average. 18%, of employees were aged over SO in low LTFR workplaces. compared with 12% in high LTFR sites (p < 0.01). Similarly, lower rates were significantly associated (p < 0.01) with longer seniority and (correspondingly) lower turnover. Fluency in English showed no overall relationship with LTFR. Workplaces with any steady aftermodevening shifts had higher LTFR: but, surprisingly, the opposite pattern was observed for rotating shifts. No pattern was found with extent of overtime work. The higher management rated their effectiveness in supervision, the lower the LTFR. Worker strength and participation The philosophy underlying the Occupational Health and Safety Act is "interiial responsibility." Labor and management should (be able to) work within their company to deal with OHS issues. An important assumption is that workers who can negotiate with management will be more successful in improving working conditions-and OHS, in particular. This ability may come from collective strength (e.g., through unions) or from general participation by labor in decision-making. Such participation may reflect labor strength or a management philosophy of delegation and empowerment. At unionized sites. companies with higher LTFR had much higher grievance rates (Table 1V)-the rates per 100 members were 10, 17. and 2S for low. medium, and high LTFR sites, respectively (p < 0.01). Management in low LTFR sites reported better industrial relations; so did the worker respondents but the relationship was not significant. There has been a recent and rniijor shift in emphasis in organizational theory and research from a focus on leadership styles and motivation to the structure and culture of the organization [Richardson, 199 I]. This recent research suggests that the most effective organizations will have a decentralized and flexible structure and a culture that fosters empowerment, skill development, and accountability [e.g.. Pasquale and Athos, 1981; Peters and Waterman, 1982; Friedman Our findings suggest that these factors
6 Workplace Organization and Accident Rates 263 TABLE 111. Workforce Characteristics: Mean Values by Lost-Time Frequency Rate (LTFR) Category Variable Low Medium High p Age of employees Yo of workforce >50 years old Seniority of employees: Yo of workforce with >5 years' service Turnover of employees: 1 = 4%; 5 = >20% Fluency in English: 1 = 0-25%: 5 = /o of workforce Management self-perceived effectiveness in supervision: 1 = not effective: 7 = very effective Steady day shifts ("0 yes) Any steady afternoon/evening shifts (YO yes) Any rotating shifts (% yes) Employees regularly working overtime ('10) , , TABLE IV. Worker Strength and Participation: Mean Values by Lost-Time Frequency Rate (LTFR) Category' Variable Low Medium High P Unionization: O/O of workplaces with union Grievances: no. per 100 membersa ,004 Worker-management relations: 1 = very conflicting: 7 = very cooperative W M Level of worker participation in decision-making W: 1 = negligible; 7 = very high Level of worker participation in decision-making-m: 1 = negligible; 7 = very high Workers expected to do tasks based on management instructions: 1 = strongly disagree; 7 = strongly agree Worker participation in final selection of new equipment (Yo yes) 'W = worker co-chair response, M = management response a = Unionized workplaces only also have important effects on the LTFR. Both management and workers perceived more participation in decision-niaking in lower LTFR workplaces (p < 0.05). At lower LTFR sites. management reported less expectation that workers should simply carry out instructions, rather than use their initiative. Overall, we found that on several dimensions, the greater the perceived empowerment of workers. the lower the LTFR. There were no significant results in the opposite direction, although worker participation in the final selection of equipment was not significantly related to LTFR. Company paternalism Worksites with lower LTFR were more likely to encourage long-term career commitment from employees-at all levels (Table V). They more frequently provided long- term disability plans and, of the reasons to be concerned with H&S, ranked moral obligation somewhat more highly. Organizational philosophy regarding OHS (Has) The broad concepts of organizational structure and philosophy can be narrowed to focus on organizational philosophy regarding OHS. We would expect that the same factors outlined in the previous section can be adapted to fit this narrower focus. In fact, our findings generally support this view. We asked several questions on accountability and responsibility for OHS (Table VI). Lower LTFR companies were more likely to define OHS responsibilities in every manager's job description and to rate OHS performance as more important in annual appraisals. However, the absolute
7 264 Shannon et al. TABLE V. Measures of Company Paternalism: by Lost-Time Frequency Rate (LTFR) Category Variable Low Medium High p Company encourages long-term career commitment: 1 = not at all; 7 = very much so (a) Management (b) Skilled workers (c) Semi/unskilled workers Long-term disability plan provided (% yes) Short-term disability plan provided (% yes) 86 a4 a4.91 Rank importance of moral obligation as reason for concern with health and safety: 1 most important; 8 = least important level of importance was low-even in the low LTFR firms, the mean rating was 2.3 on a scale from 1 to 7. In several areas, management involvement appeared related to Hwse claim rates. For example, a greater prevalence of a written H&S policy was found in high LTFR firms. More high LTFR companies had undergone an IAPA audit in the previous 3 years. We interpret these as responses to high claim rates, rather than causes of them. In contrast, attendance of the most senior manager at OHS meetings was more common in low LTFR companies. Out of several safety incentives, recognition awards were more comnion in low LTFR firms (p = 0.05) (data not shown). There was a similar, hut weaker, pattern for group prizes (p = 0.07). There was no significant relationship for other incentives. Internal responsibility system An important component of the internal responsibility system is the JHSC, mandated in the workplaces we studied. It must include at least as many worker members as management. and its role is to make recommendations on OHS. It has certain powers, including workplace inspections and investigations of serious accidents. We were interested in how LTFR were related to the duties and activities of the committee and the problem-solving styles and relationships among its members (Table VII). There were weak tendencies for lower LTFR workplaces to have worker members with more training and greater access to resources (data not shown). When JHSC had executive functions (such as approving new technology) as opposed to merely advisory ones, there was some tendency to lower LTFR-but any relationships were mostly noii-significant. We also examined whether the degree of labor involvement in the JHSC. measured by the proportion of labor initiated recommendations, was significantly relaled to LTFR. It was not. We also measured the number of JHSC recommendations that involved spending or reduced productivity. and how many of these were implemented. No significant relationships with LTFR were found. While the management co-chairs reported fewer occasions on which the JHSC failed to agree than did the worker co-chairs, the frequency of such disagreement was again unrelated to LTFR; and similarly, reasons given by management for rejecting JHSC recommendations were unrelated to claim rates (data not shown). Both worker and management co-chairs reported high levels of cooperation and agreement on the JHSC. but this was uncorrelated with LTFR. Both labor and management JHSC members were far more likely to seek some internal solution to reach agree- ment than to issue "threats" (Table VIII). There was no relationship between frequency of seeking an internal solution and LTFR. In companies with higher LTFR, worker co-chairs reported that labor significantly more often said they would take the issue to the Ministry of Labor or to collective bargaining, and would issue a grievance. Management co-chairs' perception was of a similar but nonsignificant pattern. Regarding mniiagemetit problem solving style (data not shown), only one significant relationship was observed-both sets of respondents stated that management more often threatened to remove previous agreements in higher LTFR companies. (The absolute frequency of this, though, was still low.) In summary, conflict per se was not associated with LTFR. Rather, at higher LTFR workplaces, the parties in the JHSC were more likely to look outside the committee for resolution-or at least to raise the possibility of doing so. The activities of the JHSC are complemented by the right to refuse dangerous work and inspections by the Ministry of Labor, who may issue safety orders. Work refusals in the previous 3 years were far more common at unionized workplaces. Management respondents reported they were significantly more prevalent in higher LTFR sites (Table IX)-using worker responses, a non-significant trend in this
8 Workplace Organization and Accident Rates 265 TABLE VI. Indicators of Management Commitment to Occupational Health and Safety: by Lost Time Frequency Rate (LTFR) Category' Variable H&S responsibilities defined in every manager's job description (YO yes) Importance of H&S in managers' and supervisors' annual appraisals: 1 = not important; 7 = very important Status of H&S coordinator (Yo senior manager) Senior manager: 1 = often, 4 = never Attends H&S meetings Analyzes H&S performance Company has written safety policy (YO yes) IAPA safety audit in previous 3 years (YO yes) Low Medium High p , 'H&S = health and safety; IAPA = Industrial Accident Prevention Association. TABLE VII. Functioning of the Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC): by Lost-Time Frequency Rate (LTFR) Category' Variable Low Medium High P JHSC Discusses new technology W (Yo yes) M (% yes) Approves new technology W (Yo yes) M (% yes) Percentage of issues on JHSC raised by labor: 1 = 4 = 275% W M Percentage of JHSC recommendations implemented W M Degree of worker-management cooperation on JHSC: 1 = very conflicting; 7 = very cooperative 'W = Worker co-chair response; M = management co-chair response direction was observed. Low LTFR firms were less likely to have received Ministry safety orders. Worker co-chairs indicated that pursuing either an OHS issue or filing a WCB claim was not seen as leading to excessive harassment from management or other workers. These consequences were not related to LTFR. As noted earlier, a series of regression analyses were conducted. The regression used variables from each of the four respondents at a workplace. However, we did not always receive all four booklets (even when we had some response from a given workplace) and sometimes some items of data were not provided. Thus the number of workplaces which could be included in these analyses was reduced. (Indeed, the absence of complete datasets also prevented a successful factor analysis of the questionnaire from being completed). The final overall regression with 10 variables was able to account for 19% of the variance in LTFR. Other than the variables chosen a priori as confounders, those remaining significantly related to lower LTFR were: provision of a
9 ~~~ ~ 266 Shannon et al. TABLE VIII. Labor Problem-Solving Style on Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC): by Lost-Time Frequency Rate (LTFR) Category' Variable Low Medium High P Frequency with which JHSC worker members: 1 = never, 7 = often Provided information on problem W M Offered to study problem with management W M Said they would take issue to Ministry of Labor W M Said they would take issue to collective bargaining W M Said they would present grievance on H&S W M I4 'W = Worker co-chair response; M = management co-chair response. TABLE IX. Other Aspects of the Internal Responsibility System: by Lost-Time Frequency Rate (LTFR) Category Variable Low Medium High p Work refusal in previous 3 years (management response) (% yes) Health and safety orders issued by Ministry of Labor in ('lo yes) Labour perception of consequences of filing WCB claim 1 = none, 7 = a great deala Threat to job security Hassling by management Hassling by co-workers jwcb - Worker's CornDensation Board long-term disability plan, greater expectation that employees use their own initiative, greater perceived effectiveness in supervision of employees, and encouragement of longterm commitment from skilled employees. (The last was significant only at the 0. I level.) The proportion of variance explained was split roughly equally between the "confounders" and these other variables. Given the lack of precision with which such variables are measured, this is likely to underestimate their importance. Further, we have already noted the problems with our data, so emphasize the limitations of this analysis. DI SCU N Before considering the substantive results, we examine some methodological issues. Firstly, the response proportion was not as high as we would have wished, although it was very good for this type of study. We note that it was similar across the different LTFR categories. Further, the telephone survey responses for those companies that did not complete the written questionnaire were similarly distributed to the questionnaire an-
10 Workplace Organization and Accident Rates 267 swers when completed. Thus we believe that coniparisons of high. medium. and low LTFR worksites are valid. Secondly, some data were missing, even when we received a completed questionnaire. This was probably inevitable, given that some items were controversial or required access to relevant data. Generally, though, the forms were conipleted well, but the missing data limited the extent to which we could conduct multivariable analyses. Thirdly, there were some differences in response between management and workers when asked the same question. In general these differences were acceptable, because they depended on perception rather than on objective data. We anticipate a separate report on this topic. Another issue is that the data were cross-sectional, so the issue of temporality arises. We believe though that we can usually identify when variables were likely to have been outcomes rather than causes of. Also, we hope that, when data become available in the future, we can look at LTFR in the period uffer the questionnaire completion. We used as outcomes the LTFR. This is not perfectsince it depends on such things as compliance with WC reporting requirements. (A recent study by the Ontario WCB found that a substantial proportion of companies stated that they do not always follow statutory reporting procedures [Research and Evaluation Branch, 19921). We believe though that it was the best measure available. It is unlikely that the threefold difference in LTFR from low to high categories would result from reporting problems. Further, questions on hassling of workers who submit compensation claims showed no difference between the three LTFR categories, implying that hassling would not bias any relationships. There might though be some dilution of any real associations. In contrast, many variables were examined, so that some relationships found were likely significant by chance. To overcome this, in considering our interpretation we looked for both statistical significance und a consistent trend across the three LTFR categories. In addition. we looked for consistency in the trends in similar sorts of questions (although for reasons of space we have not shown a11 similar questions). Finally. even highly significant relationships tended to occur with relatively small differences on the 1-7 scale. Thus, a difference from low to high of one point on the scale was commonly significant at the 0.01 level. On the other hand, when differences in proportions between categories were significant, they were substantial in absolute terms. We now consider the main results. Companies with older workers, workers with longer seniority, and with low turnover tended to have lower LTFR. Since these characteristics are correlated. we cannot tell which, if any, lead to lower accident rates4r indeed whether companies that treat their workers well and retain them are also better able to maintain safer workplaces. This result emphasizes the importance of considering demographic variables as confounders. Lower grievance rates and better labor relations (at least as perceived by management) were related to lower claim rates. So were encouragement by management of long-term career commitment from each of several levels of employees, provision of a long-term disability plan and, to a lesser extent (p = 0.09), high ranking of moral obligation as a reason for considering OHS important. Taken together, these portray managements who demonstrate their concern for their workforce with concrete actions. Lower LTFR were also associated with greater worker participation as well as lower expectation that workers simply follow management instructions. These would suggest that empowerment is important-that worker participation in the final selection of new equipment was not related to LTFR may be because input at an earlier stage is more important. or perhaps implies the relevance of software rather than hardware. Neither the status of the health and safety coordinator nor the existence of a written H&S policy was related to lower rates. Factors that were related were: defining H&S in every manager s job description; the importance of H&S performance in managers annual appraisals; and attendance by the senior manager at H&S meetings. Once again, these are concrete expressions of how importantly management treats OHS. The activities of the JHSC were generally unrelated to LTFR. The main feature of the JHSC that was related to LTFR was part of its problem-solving style-when labor or management more often threatened to go outside the committee the LTFR were higher. 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