Employee Perceptions About Safety: Lessons from 25 Years of Culture Assessments

Thursday • 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM • Location: Ryman Studio G


Steve Roberts, Ph.D.
Senior Partner
Safety Performance Solutions

This presentation highlights over 20 years of Safety Culture Assessments, including more than 300,000 responses from our Safety Culture Survey from hundreds of diverse organizations, employee interviews, assessments of safety management systems, and leadership behavior assessments.

Although most employees feel leaders care about safety, there is still much that employees expect to help build an ideal safety culture, such as showing up in person at site locations, getting out of the meeting rooms and into the production/operations/field areas, and ensuring the availability of appropriate tools/equipment, personnel, and other resources.

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Identify common misunderstandings between front line employees and organizational leadership
  2. Describe the behaviors employees expect to see from organizational leadership to show they care about and support safety
  3. Describe how to use a variety of Safety Culture Assessment techniques to identify strengths, opportunities for improvement, and focus improvement activities where they are most needed to build an ideal safety culture

Steve Roberts is co-founder and senior partner at Safety Performance Solutions, Inc. He earned an M.S. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from West Chester University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Applied/Experimental Psychology with a focus in Organizational Behavior Management from Virginia Tech. His specific areas of expertise include the design, implementation, and evaluation of behavior and people-based safety processes, the assessment of organizational culture to guide safety interventions, increasing employee involvement in safety activities, organizational management systems design, organizational leadership development, and understanding and reducing human error in the workplace.

Before co-founding Safety Performance Solutions in 1995, Dr. Roberts was a research associate with Management Systems Laboratories (MSL) and the Center for Organizational Performance Improvement of the Industrial and Systems Engineering Department of Virginia Tech and safety consultant with Make-A-Difference, Inc. He has taught Research Methods at Virginia Tech, and for five years served as a Project Manager at the Center for Applied Behavior Systems (CABS) of the Psychology Department at Virginia Tech, where he participated in and helped direct graduate and undergraduate research projects which combine the technology of applied behavior analysis with theories from industrial, experimental, and personality psychology to solve real-world problems and improve people's quality of life.

Steve has published articles in a number of peer reviewed academic journals including American Journal of Health Promotion, Applied and Preventive Psychology, Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, and Journal of Safety Research, as well as Safety + Health, Security Management, and People, Land and Water Magazines. Steve authored the book chapter Actively Caring for Occupational Safety: Preventing Injuries with People Based Safety, in Dr. E. Scott Geller’s 2013 book Actively Caring for People: Cultivating a Culture of Compassion. Steve is also lead author for the book chapter Principles of Behavior-Based Safety in the Handbook of Safety Principles, edited by Niklas Möller of Sweden’s Royal Institute of Technology, published in 2018 by John Wiley & Sons.

Steve was named among the “50 Top Safety Leaders” by Industrial Safety & Hygiene News (ISHN) in 2017, is a regular speaker at both public and corporate sponsored events and consults with clients across all industry types. Some of Steve’s consulting clients include ExxonMobil, Newmont Mining, Alpha Natural Resources, Owens Corning, Specialty Granules, JSR Micro, Boart Longyear, Pratt & Whitney, Marathon Petroleum, The Hershey Company, and the U.S. Navy. Steve also taught the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) Seminarfest course People-Based Safety each year from 2005 to 2018.