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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Drexel: Safety Scale Research Helps Fire Departments Achieve Health and Wellness Goals

Researchers at the Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health have developed a new safety scale that measures the safety climate of a fire department. The tool helps fire departments gauge their management and supervisor support for safety initiatives that prevent burnout, poor engagement and low job satisfaction – attributes that many previous studies have shown can increase injuries and deaths in the line of duty.

“We are now going further upstream and measuring the safety climate that influences engagement and job satisfaction,” said lead author Dr. Jennifer Taylor, an associate professor of environmental and occupational health in Drexel’s Dornsife School of Public Health and director of the School’s Center for Firefighter Injury Research and Safety Trends. “By instilling a culture of safety and helping managers and fire department leaders convey safety messages, we are raising employee morale, job satisfaction and other factors that are proven to prevent injuries.”

The survey evaluated a nationally representative sample of 130 fire departments, consisting of 615 stations and 8,575 firefighters, on two domains. The first asked firefighters to grade their department management on seven safety questions, including whether the department “cuts corners on safety” when budgets are tight. The second asked firefighters to grade their direct supervisor on seven safety questions. Higher scores denoted that firefighters perceived management and supervisors to be more committed to safety. Lower scores were linked to poor job satisfaction and engagement and high rates of burnout.

The scale, published in Safety Science, is now part of the larger Fire Service Organizational Culture of Safety survey developed by the team.

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