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1G.004 Remediating disability support workers‘ psychosocial safety using a work safety climate measure
  1. Neil Kirby1,
  2. Julia Harries1,
  3. Jerry Ford2
  1. 1The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia
  2. 2Flinders University, Bedford Park, Australia


Background Disability support workers (DSWs) are at high-risk of psychosocial work hazard exposure. This research reports on the follow-up findings from action research undertaken in three consecutive studies over five years to address DSW psychosocial work safety issues. The first study (n=99) showed DSWs experienced poorer outcomes than norm groups on measures of work safety climate, burnout, physical and mental health, and bullying. In a second study (n=129), stakeholder feedback associated with these measures informed the implementation of seven work safety recommendations. Evaluation after 9 months of implementation showed improved trends using the same measures compared to study 1. A third study investigated whether gains were maintained after 18 months.

Method A follow-up evaluation (study 3, n=138) used the same measures to examine changes overtime and relative to instrument norms.

Results Follow-up findings showed that all health and safety outcomes had continued to improve. There were significant improvements across the three studies in the measures of work safety climate, personal and work-related burnout, witnessed bullying, and mental and physical health. Favourable work safety climate findings were supported by improved incident and workers’ compensation statistics for the organisation.

Conclusions Whilst causation cannot be established (e.g., due to the absence of control groups), progressive improvements in psychosocial safety outcomes support the use of psychosocial measures including work safety climate to assist in the selection and evaluation of work safety interventions.

Learning Outcomes The findings supported the use of standardised measures for benchmarking psychosocial aspects of work safety and for evaluating remedial interventions.

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