Feedback and safety: The empirical case (part 1)

Thumbs up with chat boxes Part 1

Feedback and safety: The empirical case (part 1)

By Madison Hanscom, PhD

Feedback is a central component to safety.

Conversations about safety are what motivate your people, fuel their growth, guide them in the right direction, inform future behavior, clarify expectations, and help them to attain goals. There is no lack of empirical support to illustrate the importance of feedback in the safest workplaces. For instance, an intervention that increased the frequency in which leaders had safety-related interactions and feedback with their employees produced an impressive increase in PPE use (from 25% to 73% after the 8-week experiment) (1). These changes were still present when the researchers went back to the worksite and measured 5 months later, and there was also a significant decrease in injuries. In another study, researchers gave supervisors 2 individualized feedback sessions about how much they integrate safety and productivity-related issues in daily verbal exchanges (and were encouraged to increase the importance of safety messages during daily exchanges) (2). After the 12-week intervention phase, employees reported higher safety climate perceptions and safety behavior.

Safety feedback is highly impactful, but it will lead to more positive change when it is done well.

For more on what great safety feedback looks like, please see the next blog #2.

At Propulo, we work with leaders to develop micro-habits associated with effective leadership behaviors. We can help your company make safety “who we are” instead of “something we do.” Partner with us to improve the world of work using the latest insights from research. Our team has the expertise to help your business build a safer and healthier culture.


(1) Zohar, D. (2002). Modifying supervisory practices to improve subunit safety: a leadership-based intervention model. Journal of Applied psychology, 87(1), 156.
(2) Zohar, D., & Polachek, T. (2014). Discourse-based intervention for modifying supervisory communication as leverage for safety climate and performance improvement: A randomized field study. Journal of Applied Psychology, 99(1), 113.


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