Turnover rate as a measure of safety culture?

Blogger Dave Weber, a former Safety and Environmental Manager and founder of Safety Awakenings makes an interesting observation:

Companies with low staff turnover tend to have good safety records and excellent safety cultures.

Having a good culture means they are good places to work.  They are profitable, so treat staff well.  Lower turnover also means there is better retention of safety knowledge.

Could staff turnover (and the factors that affect staff turnover) potentially be used as one measure of safety culture?  If there is a correlation, does this correlation apply to both occupational safety culture and process safety culture?

2 Responses to Turnover rate as a measure of safety culture?

  1. Interesting idea. High turnover is a sign of trouble, but not necessarily safety culture. As a measure of safety culture, turnover is not valid or reliable – it is too polluted. Turnover could reflect many things, not least the state of the local job market and overall economy, pay and conditions, as well as managent methods, morale, career opportunities, skill level, etc. There are enough examples of companies and government bodies with low turnover (especially in the current climate) to illustrate this.

    While high turnover should prompt a lot of questions, very low turnover may lead to organisational stagnancy, a lack of new thinking and challenge. I don’t know what the turnover of NASA during the Challenger/Columbia years, but I suspect is was low (it is currently “very, very low” according to their website).

    It is not possible to have a quick, easy and cheap snap shot of safety culture. It requires a lot of talking to people.

  2. Frank Verschueren says:

    I agree with Steven.

    Turnover can trigger to question the climate or even the culture but I agree that turnover can be caused by many factors just as safety culture is influenced by many different factors.

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