Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology, and Life Sciences, Vol. 18, Iss. 2, April, 2014, pp. 177-198
@2014 Society for Chaos Theory in Psychology & Life Sciences


Catastrophe Model of the Accident Process, Safety Climate, and Anxiety

Stephen J. Guastello, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI
Mark Lynn, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL

Abstract: This study aimed (a) to address the evidence for situational specificity in the connection between safety climate to occupational accidents, (b) to resolve similar issues between anxiety and accidents, (c) to expand and develop the concept of safety climate to include a wider range of organizational con-structs, (d) to assess a cusp catastrophe model for occupational accidents where safety climate and anxiety are treated as bifurcation variables, and environ-mental hazards are asymmetry variables. Bifurcation, or trigger variables can have a positive or negative effect on outcomes, depending on the levels of asymmetry, or background variables. The participants were 1262 production employees of two steel manufacturing facilities who completed a survey that measured safety management, anxiety, subjective danger, dysregulation, stressors and hazards. Nonlinear regression analyses showed, for this industry, that the accident process was explained by a cusp catastrophe model in which safety management and anxiety were bifurcation variables, and hazards, age and experience were asymmetry variables. The accuracy of the cusp model (R2 = .72) exceeded that of the next best log-linear model (R2 = .08) composed from the same survey variables. The results are thought to generalize to any industry where serious injuries could occur, although situationally specific effects should be anticipated as well.

Keywords: safety climate, anxiety, manufacturing, cusp catastrophe