This paper reveals how a safety incident provides an opportunity to create a potential quality (productivity) upgrade within an organisation. Systems methodology provides the framework for developing the approach. Qualitative research involving 27 frontline supervisors (actors) from 5 different organisations (stakeholders) in the Australian Asphalt and Pavement Industry (AAPI) attended one of five focus groups sessions. A force-field analysis helped extract a ‘real-world’ view (i.e., Weltanschauung 1) from the participants in the study. This phase of the research provided the ‘actor’s’ perspective as to how safety incidents effect levels of worker engagement. The link between higher levels of engagement and productivity has already been well established in the management literature. Beginning with the world view provided by the participants, the researcher introduced Whiteoak’s (2015) ZE (zone of engagement) model to the participants. The ZE model was empirically developed in the Australian Mining Industry with a sample of Dragline Operators and incorporates the interaction between cultural-fit factors and personal-qualities in predicting worker engagement. There was a general agreement among the participants about risk factors but there was a lack of a common in-use language. Application of the ZE model improved the participant’s capacity to communicate these concepts. The sharing of common language enabled participants to embrace a more refined safety/engagement world view (i.e., Weltanschauung 2). The subsequent survey findings, completed by 207 frontline AAPI workers, enabled the researcher to articulate the concepts of ‘tacit’ safety and ‘explicit’ safety. This increased a sense of ownership of the responsibilities within the organisation and the individual worker as to the hazards of poorly developed safety conduct in the workplace.
2015 University Research Conference: Integrate, Innovate, Inspire, Sunshine Coast, Australia 13-16 July 2015