Completed Research

Enhancing Safety Climate through Leadership (Foundations for Safety Leadership) (Completed – 2014-2019)

Linda Goldenhar


[email protected]

Research Team

Stefanie Johnson, Natalie Schwatka, John Rosecrance, Jack Dennerlein, Jamie Tessler, Dan Weinstein, Tiffany Rice, Mark Fullen, Marissa Beldon

The National Academies’ review of NIOSH’s construction program concluded, as has OSHA, that having a positive safety culture and strong job site safety climate are critical to improving safety and health outcomes for construction workers. Research has also shown that effective frontline leadership helps strengthen job site safety climate. CPWR embarked on two research projects to address these important issues.

Developing the Safety Climate Workbook and Safety Climate Assessment Tool (S-CAT)

The purpose of this project was to begin addressing the need to translate decades of safety climate research into practical tools specifically for the construction industry. In 2013, we held a workshop with construction industry stakeholders and asked them to work together to answer a number of questions regarding what safety climate means in construction and how to measure it. The group identified eight leading indicators of safety climate: Demonstrating management commitment;  Aligning and integrating safety as a value; Ensuring accountability at all levels; Improving site safety leadership; Empowering and involving workers; Improving communication; Training at all levels; and Encouraging owner/client involvement. After the workshop, we created a safety climate workbook and a rubric-based measurement tool called the Safety Climate Assessment Tool (S-CAT)  that construction companies of any size could use to self-assess their level of safety climate maturity across the indicators and identify ways to continually improve along the spectrum from inattentive to exemplary in their efforts to strengthen job site safety climate.

Developing the Foundations for Safety Leadership (FSL) training program

To continue pursuing this research agenda, in this project we focused on the identified safety climate indicator: Improving site safety leadership. Between 2014 and 2016, we worked with a curriculum development committee and many other stakeholders to develop the 2.5-hour FSL training program. At the start of 2017, the OSHA Training Institute announced that the FSL would become an official elective in the 30-hour course.  All the training materials were also posted on CPWR’s website so that folks would be able to download them and use them in other types of training programs. Since the official rollout, over 100,000 frontline construction leaders, and others nationwide, have participated in the FSL training to learn the critical leadership skills needed to promote a positive safety climate on their worksites and improve safety outcomes.



Safety Climate Assessment Tool (S-CAT) enables companies to assess their progress towards strengthening eight leading indicators of safety climate.

Foundations for Safety Leadership (FSL) training module. The FSL is now an official elective in the OSHA 30-Hour training course

Other Resources

Linda Goldenhar speaks with Professional Safety Magazine about Safety Culture and Safety Climate.