An exploration of workplace social capital as an antecedent of occupational safety and health climate and outcomes in the Chinese education sector

  • Jessica Janice Tang
  • Stavroula LekaEmail author
  • Nigel Hunt
  • Sara MacLennan
Original Article



It is widely acknowledged that teachers are at greater risk of work-related health problems. At the same time, employee perceptions of different dimensions of organizational climate can influence their attitudes, performance, and well-being at work. This study applied and extended a safety climate model in the context of the education sector in Hong Kong. Apart from safety considerations alone, the study included occupational health considerations and social capital and tested their relationships with occupational safety and health (OSH) outcomes.


Seven hundred and four Hong Kong teachers completed a range of questionnaires exploring social capital, OSH climate, OSH knowledge, OSH performance (compliance and participation), general health, and self-rated health complaints and injuries. Structural equation modeling (SEM) was used to analyze the relationships between predictive and outcome variables.


SEM analysis revealed a high level of goodness of fit, and the hypothesized model including social capital yielded a better fit than the original model. Social capital, OSH climate, and OSH performance were determinants of both positive and negative outcome variables. In addition, social capital not only significantly predicted general health directly, but also had a predictive effect on the OSH climate–behavior–outcome relationship.


This study makes a contribution to the workplace social capital and OSH climate literature by empirically assessing their relationship in the Chinese education sector.


Occupational safety and health Safety climate Social capital General health Teachers Hong Kong 


Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


  1. Alli BO (2001) Fundamental principles of occupational health and safety. International Labour Office, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  2. Anderson JC, Gerbing DW (1988) Structural Equation Modeling in practice: a review and recommended two-step approach. Psychol Bull 103(3):411–423. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.103.3.411 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bailis DS, Segal A, Chipperfield JG (2003) Two views of self-rated general health status. Soc Sci Med 56:203. doi: 10.1016/S0277-9536(02)00020-5 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barling J, Kelloway EK, Iverson RD (2003) Accidental outcomes: attitudinal consequences of workplace injuries. J Occup Health Psychol 8:74–85. doi: 10.1037/1076-8998.8.1.74 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bolino MC, Turnley WH, Niehoff BP (2004) The other side of the story: re-examining prevailing assumptions about organizational citizenship behavior. Human Resource Manag R 14:229–246. doi: 10.1016/j.hrmr.2004.05.004 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Borman WC, Motowidlo SJ (1993) Expanding the criterion domain to include elements of contextual performance. In: Schmitt N, Borman WC (eds) Personnel selection in organisations. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, pp 71–98Google Scholar
  7. Brown SP, Leigh TW (1996) A new look at psychological climate and its relationship to job involvement, effect, and performance. J Appl Psychol 81:358–368. doi: 10.1177/0258042X0803300404 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Byrne B (2001) Structural equation modeling with AMOS: basic concepts, applications, and programming. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, LondonGoogle Scholar
  9. Carr J, Huntley A, MacQuarrie B, Welsh S (2004) Workplace harassment and violent report. Centre for Research on Violence Against Women and Children, TorontoGoogle Scholar
  10. Chan DW (1985) The Chinese version of the General Health Questionnaire: does language make a difference? Psychol Med 15:147–155. doi: 10.1017/S0033291700021012 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chan AHS, Chen K, Chong EYL (2010). Work stress of teachers from primary and secondary schools in Hong Kong. In: Proceedings of the international multiconference of engineers and computer scientists 2010, vol III, IMECS, Hong KongGoogle Scholar
  12. Cheung MK (2009) Professional Teacher Union publications, 555. PTU, Hong KongGoogle Scholar
  13. Cheyne A, Cox S, Oliver A, Tomas JM (1998) Modelling safety climate in the prediction of levels of safety activity. Work Stress 12(3):255–271. doi: 10.1080/02678379808256865 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Christian MS, Bradley JC, Wallace JC, Burke MJ (2009) Workplace safety: a meta-analysis of the roles of person and situation factors. J Appl Psychol 94:1103–1127. doi: 10.1037/a0016172 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Clarke S, Robertson IT (2005) A meta-analytic review of the Big Five personality factors and accident involvement in occupational and non-occupational settings. J Occup Organ Psychol 78:355–376. doi: 10.1348/096317905X26183 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Cohen JM (2002) Measuring safety performance in construction. Occup Hazards 64:41–44Google Scholar
  17. Cooper MD, Phillips RA (2004) Exploratory analysis of the safety climate and safety behavior relationship. J Saf Res 35:497–512. doi: 10.1016/j.jsr.2004.08.004 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Dastmalchian A, Blyton P, Adamson R (1991) The climate of workplace. Routledge, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  19. Dedobbeleer N, Beland F (1998) Is risk perception one of the dimensions of safety climate? In: Feyer AM, Williamson A (eds) Occupational injury: risk, prevention, and intervention. Taylor Francis, London, pp 73–81Google Scholar
  20. DeJoy DM, Schaffer BS, Wilson MG, Vandenberg RG, Butts MM (2004) Creating safer workplaces: assessing the determinants and role of safety climate. J Saf Res 35(1):81–90. doi: 10.1016/j.jsr.2003.09.018 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. EU-OSHA (2007) Expert forecast on emerging psychosocial risks related to occupational safety and health. European Risk Observatory Report. Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, LuxembourgGoogle Scholar
  22. EU-OSHA (2010) European Survey of enterprises on new and emerging risks: managing safety and health at work. Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, LuxembourgGoogle Scholar
  23. Glazer S, Laurel AR, Kannan Narasimhan R (2005) A conceptual framework for studying safety climate and culture of commercial airlines. In: Paper presented at the 13th international symposium on aviation psychology, Oklahoma City, OKGoogle Scholar
  24. Glick WH (1985) Conceptualizing and measuring organizational and psychological climate: pitfalls in multilevel research. Acad Manag Rev 10:601–616. doi: 10.2307/258140 Google Scholar
  25. Goldberg DP, Williams P (1988) A user’s guide of the General Health Questionnaire. NFER-Nelson, WindsorGoogle Scholar
  26. Griffin MA, Neal A (2000) Perceptions of safety at work: a framework for linking safety climate to safety performance, knowledge, and motivation. J Occup Health Psychol 5:347–358. doi: CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hämäläinen P, Takala J, Saarela KL (2006) Global estimates of occupational accidents. Saf Sci 44(2):137–156. doi: 10.1016/j.ssci.2005.08.017 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Harpham T, Grant E, Thomas E (2002) Measuring social capital within health surveys: key issues. Health Policy Plan 17:106–111. doi: 10.1093/heapol/17.1.106 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hofmann DA, Stetzer A (1996) A cross-level investigation of factors influencing unsafe behaviors and accidents. Pers Psychol 49:307–339. doi: 10.1111/j.1744-6570.1996.tb01802.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hofmann DA, Stetzer A (1998) The role of safety climate and communication in accident interpretation: implications for learning from negative events. Acad Manag J 41:646–657. doi: 10.2307/256962 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hon LS (2008) The sources of teachers committing suicide. Apple Daily. Retrieved from
  32. Hyyppa MT, Maki J (2001) Why do Swedish-speaking Finns have longer active life? An area for social capital research. Health Promot Int 16:55–64. doi: CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Idler EL, Russell LB, Davis D (2000) Survival, functional limitations and self-rated health in the NHANES I epidemiologic follow-up study, 1992. First National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Am J Epidemiol 152:874–883. doi: 10.1093/aje/152.9.874 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. ILO (2009) Health and life at work: a basic human right. ILO, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  35. International Labour Organization (ILO) (2007) Labour inspectorate records 2007. ILO, Department of Statistics, Hong KongGoogle Scholar
  36. James LR, Demaree RG, Wolf G (1993) Rwg: an assessment of within-group interrater agreement. J Appl Psychol 78:306–309. doi: 10.1177/1094428104272181 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Kawachi I, Kennedy BP, Glass R (1999) Social capital and self-rated health: a contextual analysis. Am J Public Health 89:1187–1193. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.89.8.1187 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Kivimaki M, Head J, Ferrie JE, Shipley MJ, Vahtera J, Marmot MG (2003) Sickness absence as a global measure of health: evidence from mortality in the Whitehall II prospective cohort study. Br Med J 327:364. doi: 10.1136/bmj.327.7411.364 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Kouvonen A, Kivimaki M, Vahtera J, Oksanen T, Elovainio M, Cox T (2006) Psychometric evaluation of a short measure of social capital at work. BMC Public Health 6:251. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-6-251 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Kouvonen A, Oksanen T, Vahtera J, Vaananen A, De Vogli R, Elovainio M, Pentti J, Leka S, Cox T, Kivimaki M (2008) Work-place social capital and smoking cessation: the Finnish Public Sector Study. Addiction 103(11):1857–1865. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2008.02315.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Krause NM, Jay GM (1994) What do global self-rated health items measure? Med Care 32:930–942. doi: 10.1177/0164027599213006 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Labour Department, Occupational Safety and Health Branch (2011) Occupational safety and health statistics 2010. The Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Hong KongGoogle Scholar
  43. Leung SK, Mak YW, Chui YY, Chiang CL, Lee CK (2009) Occupational stress, mental health status and stress management behaviors among secondary school teachers in Hong Kong. Health Educ J 68(4):328–343. doi: 10.1177/0017896909349255 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Marsh HW, Balla JR, McDonald RP (1998) Goodness-of-fit indices in confirmatory factor analysis: the effect of sample size. Psychol Bull 102(391):410. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.103.3.391 Google Scholar
  45. Mclntyre T (2011) Job stress in teachers linked to students achievement. Sci Daily. Retrieved from
  46. Mearns K, Hope L, Reader T (2006) Health and well being in the offshore environment. Research Report 376. HSE Books, UKGoogle Scholar
  47. Morrison EW (1994) Role definitions and organizational citizenship behavior: the importance of the employee’s perspective. Acad Manag J 37:1543–1567. doi: 10.2307/256798 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Neal A, Griffin MA (2006) A study of the lagged relationships among safety climate, safety motivation, safety behavior, and accidents at the individual and group levels. J Appl Psychol 91:946–953. doi: 10.1037/0021-9010.91.4.946 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Nunnally J (1978) Psychometric theory, 2nd edn. McGraw-Hill, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  50. Nuntawinit C, Wongkhomthong J, Luangamornlert S, Chomson S (2009) A model of safety performance in perioperative registered nurses. Siriraj Med J 61(6):292–293Google Scholar
  51. Oliver A, Cheyne A, Tomas JM, Cox S (2002) The effects of organizational and individual factors on occupational accidents. J Occup Organ Psychol 75:2002–2488Google Scholar
  52. Oyserman D, Coon HM, Kemmelmeier M (2002) Rethinking individualism and collectivism: evaluation of theoretical assumptions and meta-analyses. Psychol Bull 128(1):3–72. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.128.1.3 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Pollack CE, von dem Kenesebeck O (2004) Social capital and health among the aged: comparisons between the United States and Germany. Health Place 10:383–391. doi: 10.1016/j.healthplace.2004.08.008 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Poortinga W (2006) Social capital: an individual or collective resource for health? Soc Sci Med 62:292–302. doi: 10.1177/0001699312439080 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Probst TM, Brubaker TL (2001) The effects of job insecurity on employee safety outcomes: cross-sectional and longitudinal explorations. J Occup Health Psychol 6:139–159. doi: 10.1037/1076-8998.6.2.139 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Putnam RD (1993) Making democracy work. Civic traditions in modern Italy. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  57. Reich RB (2001) The future of success: working and living in the new economy. Knopf, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  58. Reichers AE, Schneider B (1990) Climate and culture: an evolution of constructs. In: Schneider B (ed) Organizational climate and culture. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, pp 5–39Google Scholar
  59. Rentsch JR (1990) Climate and culture: interaction and qualitative differences in organizational meanings. J Appl Psychol 75:668–681. doi: 10.1037/0021-9010.75.6.668 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Requena F (2003) Social capital, satisfaction and quality of life in workplace. Soc Indic Res 61:331–360. doi: 10.1023/A:1021923520951 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Ribisl KM, Reischl TM (1993) Measuring the climate for health at organizations-development of the worksite health climate scales. J Occup Environ Med 35:812–824. doi: 10.1007/978-3-642-02731-4_2 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Salin D (2008) Organisational responses to workplace harassment: an exploratory study. Pers Rev 38(1):26–44. doi: 10.1108/00483480910920697 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Schneider B (1990) Organizational climate and culture. Jossey Bass, San FranciscoGoogle Scholar
  64. Schor J (1991) The overworked American. Basic Books, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  65. Skrabski A, Kopp M, Kawachi I (2004) Social capital and collective efficacy in Hungary: cross sectional associations with middle aged female and male mortality rates. J Epidemiol Community Health 58:340–345. doi: 10.1136/jech.2003.010017 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Stansfield SA, Head JRS, Singleton N, Lee A (2003) Occupation and mental health: secondary analysis of the ONS Psychiatric Morbidity Survey of Great Britain. HSE Books, LondonGoogle Scholar
  67. Strickoff RS (2000) Safety performance measurement: identifying prospective indicators with higher validity. Prof Saf 45(1):36–39Google Scholar
  68. Tang JJ, Leka S, Hunt N, MacLennan S (2011) Occupational psychosocial health policies in Hong Kong School: a review and exploration of key stakeholder perceptions. Health Policy 103:266–275. doi: 10.1016/j.healthpol.2011.07.003 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Tepper BJ, Lockhart D, Hoobler J (2001) Justice, citizenship, and role definition effects. J Appl Psychol 86:789–796. doi: 10.1037/0021-9010.86.4.789 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Watson GW, Scott D, Bishop J, Turnbeaugh T (2005) Dimensions of interpersonal relationships and safety in the steel industry. J Bus Psychol 19(3):303–318. doi: 10.1007/sl0869-004-2230-2 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Woolcock M, Narayan D (2000) Social capital: implications for development theory, research, and policy. World Bank Res Obs 15:225–249. doi: 10.1093/wbro/15.2.225 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. World Health Organization (WHO) (2002) Global strategy on occupational health for all. WHO, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  73. Yip W, Subramanian SV, Mitchell AD, Lee DT, Wang J, Kawachi I (2007) Does social capital enhance health and well-being? Evidence from rural China. Soc Sci Med 64:35–49. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2006.08.027 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Zacharatos A, Barling J, Iverson RD (2005) High-performance work systems and occupational safety. J Appl Psychol 90:2005–2093. doi: 10.1037/0021-9010.90.1.77 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Zohar D (1980) Safety climate in industrial organizations: theoretical and applied implications. J Appl Psychol 65:96–102. doi: 10.1037/0021-9010.65.1.96 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Zohar D (2000) A group-level model of safety climate: testing the effect of group climate on microaccidents in manufacturing jobs. J Appl Psychol 85:587–596. doi: 10.1037//0021-9010.85.4.587 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Zohar D (2003) Safety climate: conceptual and measurement issues. In: Quick J, Tetrick L (eds) Handbook of organizational health psychology. American Psychological Association, Washington, D.C, pp 123–142Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jessica Janice Tang
    • 1
  • Stavroula Leka
    • 1
    Email author
  • Nigel Hunt
    • 1
  • Sara MacLennan
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Work, Health and OrganisationsUniversity of NottinghamNottinghamUK
  2. 2.Academic Urology UnitUniversity of AberdeenAberdeenUK

Personalised recommendations