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Safety compliance and safety climate: A repeated cross-sectional study in the oil and gas industry



Violations of safety rules and procedures are commonly identified as a causal factor in accidents in the oil and gas industry. Extensive knowledge on effective management practices related to improved compliance with safety procedures is therefore needed. Previous studies of the causal relationship between safety climate and safety compliance demonstrate that the propensity to act in accordance with prevailing rules and procedures is influenced to a large degree by workers' safety climate. Commonly, the climate measures employed differ from one study to another and identical measures of safety climate are seldom tested repeatedly over extended periods of time. This research gap is addressed in the present study.


The study is based on a survey conducted four times among sharp-end workers of the Norwegian oil and gas industry (N = 31,350). This is done by performing multiple tests (regression analysis) over a period of 7 years of the causal relationship between safety climate and safety compliance. The safety climate measure employed is identical across the 7-year period.


Taking all periods together, the employed safety climate model explained roughly 27% of the variance in safety compliance. The causal relationship was found to be stable across the period, thereby increasing the reliability and the predictive validity of the factor structure. The safety climate factor that had the most powerful effect on safety compliance was work pressure.

Practical applications

The factor structure employed shows high predictive validity and should therefore be relevant to organizations seeking to improve safety in the petroleum sector. The findings should also be relevant to other high-hazard industries where safety rules and procedures constitute a central part of the approach to managing safety.


Academic article




  • Sverre Andreas Kvalheim
  • Øyvind Dahl


  • Norwegian University of Science and Technology
  • SINTEF Digital / Software Engineering, Safety and Security



Published in

Journal of Safety Research




Pergamon Press




33 - 41

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