Organizational and Safety Citizenship Behavior

Safety Management
Knowledge Center

Jason Starke
Management Consultant, United States

Organizational and Safety Citizenship Behavior

🔥NEW There has been a lot of research on Oganizational Citizenship Behavior (OCB), which can be defined as employee extra-role behaviors performed for the betterment of the organization. Closely related to OCB is the notion of Safety Citizenship Behavior which focuses on improving safety in high-risk organizations.

What is Safety Citizenship Behavior?

Safety citizenship behavior (SCB) is employee extra-role behavior, such as participating in safety management activities, to improve safety in the organization.

Aspects of Safety Citizenship Behavior

  • AFFILIATIVE OR ORGANIZATIONAL. In other words, SCB can be directed towards protecting individuals or for improving safety across the whole organization.
  • MULTI-DIMENSIONAL CONSTRUCT. Dimensions of this construct include safety stewardship, affective commitment, safety choice, and psychological ownership. It is these dimensions taken together that are thought to describe what SCB is.
  • ORGANIZATIONAL COMMITMENT. It is thought that a strong organizational commitment in employees can lead to greater OCBs and SCBs.

Fostering Safety Citizenship Behavior

The notion of SCBs is important for high-risk, and highly-reliable organizations. Generally, these organizations have something called a Safety Management System (SMS) which is used to identify and control risk in operations.
A large part of identifying risk in the organization is employee hazard reporting. This is a process where employees who have identified hazards within operations fill out a report regarding the hazard and submit it to the safety team. Additionally, hazard reporting could include reporting employee errors and potential violations. Generally, filling out hazard reports is not a job requirement and considered voluntary - or extra-role. Since hazard reporting is a key aspect to a functioning SMS, organizations have strived to develop this particular safety citizenship behavior.
Some research indicates that SCB developments are positively related to leadership approaches such as transformational leadership, empowering leadership, and positive leader-member exchange. Usually, these studies find that the different leadership approaches are mediated through constructs such as employee trust, organizational commitment, and social exchange to name a few. Regardless, how an organization can foster SCBs through leadership to improve safety is a key challenge for high-risk, high-reliability organizations.

⇒ Can you think of additional ways to foster SCBs in a high-risk organization?

Didla, S., Mearns, K., & Flin, R. (2009). Safety Citizenship Behaviour: A proactive approach to risk management. Journal of Risk Research, 12(3–4), 475–483.
Lee, T.-Z., Wu, C.-H., & Hong, C.-W. (2007). An Empirical Investigation of the Influence of safety climate on organizational citizenship behavior in Taiwan's facilities. International Journal of Occupational Safety and Ergonomics, 13(3), 255–269.
Li, M., Zhai, H., Zhang, J., & Meng, X. (2020). Research on the relationship between safety leadership, safety attitude and safety citizenship behavior of railway employees. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(6), 1864.
Muchiri, Michael K., Adela J. McMurray, Mathews Nkhoma, and Hiep C. Pham. "How Transformational and Empowering Leader Behaviors Enhance Workplace Safety: A Review and Research Agenda." The Journal of Developing Areas; Nashville 53, no. 1 (Winter 2019): 257–65.
Reader, T. W., Mearns, K., Lopes, C., & Kuha, J. (2017). Organizational support for the workforce and employee safety citizenship behaviors: A social exchange relationship. Human Relations, 70(3), 362–385.

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