Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Human Ecology

Major Professor

Susan M. Smith

Committee Members

Paula Carney, Tyler Kress, Robert Kirk, Gregory Petty


This study investigated group differences in safety climate among workers in the nuclear decommissioning and demolition (D&D) industry in the United States. The study population representative of workers in a high reliability industry included employees and subcontractors who worked at one of 10 locations in the United States managed by a multi-national corporation performing nuclear D&D operations. Safety climate was measured with a self-reported questionnaire, the Health and Safety Executive’s Health and Safety Climate Survey Tool (CST). The voluntary and anonymous responses totaled 1,587 out of an available population of 3,296 for an overall response rate of 48.1 percent. Significant differences (p<0.001) were found by location, job position, on-the-job injuries and illnesses, and safety oriented behavior. Differences in self-reported safety climate among locations in high reliability industries were attributed to elements other than safety management systems. Differences in the self-reported safety climate among job positions in high reliability industries adduced evidence of two safety cultures in high reliability industries characterized by a negative relationship between hands-on work and safety climate. Differences in self-reported safety climate by self-reporting of on-the-job injuries or illness attested that worker safety attitudes and perceptions in high reliability industries degrade with the occurrence of on-the-job injuries and illnesses. Differences in self-reported safety climate by self-reported participation in safety oriented behavior bespoke the positive effect that participation in the safety program has on worker safety attitudes and perceptions. Recommended safety improvement strategies included 1) addressing the contributions of elements other than safety management systems such as social, political and human factors to the safety climate across locations; 2) attending to the self reported safety climate of the workers performing hands-on work; 3) implementing immediate and long term follow up with workers experiencing on-the-job injuries or illnesses; and 4) ensuring management support of worker participation in safety oriented behavior. Based on the study findings and conclusions, further research into group differences in safety climate in high reliability industries is recommended to better enable management teams to focus safety process improvements.

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