Highway work zones can be dangerous and unpredictable. Between 2003 and 2017, over 1,800 workers died on road construction sites. Eliminating injuries and deaths requires state transportation agencies to adopt robust safety cultures as there is a clear relationship between these cultures and worker behaviors. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) is committed to improving safety performance by nurturing a positive safety climate among highway maintenance crews. To understand the safety cultures of KYTC maintenance crews, researchers administered a survey based on the Safety Climate Assessment Tool (S-CAT) developed by the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR). This is the first tool developed for the construction industry. The survey was used to quantified the existing safety climate and evaluate how effective safety programs and controls are at reducing workplace hazards. Survey respondents answered questions on 37 indicators across eight safety climate categories: employee risk perception, management commitment, aligning and integrating safety as a value, ensuring accountability at all levels, improving supervisory leadership, empowering and involving employees, improving communication, and safety training. For each indicator respondents assigned a rating on a five-point Likert scale — Inattentive (1), Reactive (2), Compliant (3), Proactive (4), Exemplary (5). Analysis of survey responses at the statewide and district levels found that KYTC’s safety culture can be characterized as between compliant and proactive. Focus groups with maintenance superintendents generated recommendations to improve safety cultures and install multiple layers of preventive measures to further reduce the number and threat of jobsite hazards.

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