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Research Project: Strategic Safety Climate Management Initiatives for National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF)

Location: Research Programs

Project Number: 3022-32000-018-026-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Jul 1, 2023
End Date: Aug 31, 2024

The National Bio and Agro defense facility has begun the journey to high reliability as one method for improving safety. Being a High Reliability Organization (HRO) requires constant vigilance for ensuring the delivery of system-wide excellence in quality and safety. Establishing a foundation for high reliability requires the engagement of personnel across the organization from frontline staff to executive leadership. Staff must feel comfortable voicing concerns in order to be fully engaged. The purpose of this collaborative project is to highlight the importance of psychological safety along the journey to becoming an HRO. Additionally, strategies for promoting a psychologically safe work environment will be developed. An essential function of high-reliability organizations is fostering organizational safety climate: the organizational members’ perceptions of the policies, procedures, and practices for workplace safety and health (Zohar, 1980; 2010). Safety climate reflects organizational values and standards for health and safety and is a leading indicator of occupational safety and health (OSH) outcomes (Flin et al., 2000; Griffin & Curcuruto, 2016) as well as biosafety (Bellati et al., 2021; Mareedu-Boada et al., 2022). Regular safety climate monitoring enables assessment of safety and biosafety effectiveness and identifies areas requiring further intervention to reduce undesirable outcomes like near miss events, accidents, and injuries. This project will establish the foundation for a positive safety climate by enhancing mutual trust and psychological safety within the NBAF. Some of the major frameworks and findings will be published in scientific journal article(s) with the hope that this pioneering and novel project will set a new high standard for the promotion of safety in high-reliability organizations, especially for BSL3 and 4 facilities. The proposed project aims to Objective 1: develop a strategic plan for the developing a culture of psychological safety at NBAF, Objective 2: create a toolkit for assessing psychological safety and relevant constructs such as error disclosure climate and counterfactual sharing, and Objective 3: design the plan for developing a psychological safety enhancement program by facilitating participatory/inclusive leadership and augmenting team structure clarity/team cohesion.

This project will develop a strategic document that includes information on the critical strategic goals, project objectives, and an overarching implementation plan to develop psychological safety. In addition, we will develop a battery of psychological safety assessment tools. Finally, based on the results of the psychological safety assessment, its strengths and opportunities will be identified and suggestions compliled for psychological safety management.