Saf Sci. 2021 Jan;133:105024. doi: 10.1016/j.ssci.2020.105024. Epub 2020 Oct 9.
OBJECTIVES: An individual’s perceptions of their workplace safety climate can influence their health and safety outcomes in the workplace. Even though union membership has been declining in the US, union members still comprise 10% of the working population and have higher-than-industry average non-fatal illness and injury rates. Due to limited research focused in this area, this study examined whether union membership was associated with worker perceptions of safety climate.
METHODS: This was a secondary data analysis study utilizing data from the Quality Work Life module from the General Social Survey centered on US workers aged 18 and above. Propensity-score matching was implemented to reduce potential selection bias between unionized and non-unionized workers. Linear regression explored the association between union membership and perceptions of safety climate, controlling for age, sex, education, industry, resource adequacy, supervisor support, co-worker support, and workload.
RESULTS: For perceived safety climate (on a 0-16 scale, the higher the more positive), those in union had a lower mean of perceived safety climate (12.44) compared to those not in a union (13.20). Based on the regression results, those who were in a union reported more negative perceptions of their workplace safety climate in a 12-month period (β = -0.61, p < .001).
CONCLUSIONS: By demonstrating a commitment to proactive injury prevention and bolstering the business’s overall safety performance indicators, businesses who are open to collaborations with unions may see some long-term benefits (e.g. return on investment, increased job satisfaction) and enhance union workers’ perceptions of safety climate.