Applying a realistic evaluation model to occupational safety interventions

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Background: Recent literature characterizes occupational safety interventions as complex social activities, applied in complex and dynamic social systems. Hence, the actual outcomes of an intervention will vary, depending on the intervention, the implementation process, context, personal characteristics of key actors (defined mechanisms), and the interplay between them, and can be categorized as expected or unexpected. However, little is known about ’how’ to include context and mechanisms in evaluations of intervention effectiveness. A revised realistic evaluation model has been introduced as a method to overcome these challenges. Focus is: What works, for whom, under what circumstances, in what respects, and how? Contextual factors such as underreporting of accidents/injuries and mechanisms, e.g. leader motivation, are included in the model and proposed to be measured using quantitative and qualitative methods. This revised model has, however, not been applied in a real life context.
Method: The model is applied in a controlled, four-component, integrated behaviour-based and safety culture-based safety intervention study (2008-2010) in a medium-sized wood manufacturing company. The interventions involve the company’s safety committee, safety manager, safety groups and 130 workers.
Results: The model provides a framework for more valid evidence of what works within injury prevention. Affective commitment and role behaviour among key actors are identified as crucial for the implementation of occupational safety interventions.
Conclusion: The revised realistic evaluation model can help safety science forward in identifying key factors for the success of occupational safety interventions. However, future research should strengthen the link between the immediate intervention results and outcome.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSafety Science
Publication statusIn preparation - 2022

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