Research: Findings & Summaries


WorkSafeNB S.A.F.E.R Training & Evaluation

In 2016 Drs. Kevin Kelloway, Saint Mary's University and Jane Mullen, Mount Allison University in partnership with WorkSafeNB, the S.A.F.E.R. leadership training program was implemented and evaluated to improve health and safety in selected industry groups in the province of New Brunswick (long-term healcare, restaurant and hotel management, municipal employees).

  1. Was the training effective in enhancing safety leadership?  Trained leaders reported engaging in more safety leadership behaviors relative to a wait-list
    control group for the mixed industry group but not in the long-term care sample. Employees in both samples reported that trained leaders engaged in more safety leadership behaviors than did the wait list control groups. Moreover these effects were replicated in a second, Francophone, sample in
    which both leaders and their employees reported small increases in S.A.F.E.R.
  2. What is S.A.F.E.R. Leadership?  Analysis suggested that S.A.F.E.R. leadership is strongly related to both transformational and passive safety leadership. Moreover S.A.F.E.R. leadership is related to safety-related variables in the expected fashion.
  3. How does S.A.F.E.R. leadership work? Our results strongly supported a model suggesting that the effects of S.A.F.E.R. leadership on safety outcomes are indirect – being mediated by safety attitudes/perceptions and safetybehaviors.

These initial results are promising and suggest that S.A.F.E.R. leadership training is an effective means of increasing employee safety behaviors and safety outcomes in organizations.

See Full Report SAFER Final Report .


Workplace Stress in the Nova Scotia Workforce -

2006 Summary Report 

In 2005 and 2006 individuals across Nova Scotia participated in a research study with Drs. Lori Francis and Kevin Kelloway of Saint Mary’s University. This study, which was funded by the Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation, focused on workplace stress and safety in the Nova Scotia workforce.

The study was immensely successful. With responses from more than 1400 people, many of whom responded to three surveys, they were able to assess the amount and type of stressors that workers in this province experience and the intensity of their reactions to stressful aspects of the workplace. The results of the study are being very well received among those practitioners who work in occupational health, government officials, and academics.

Below you will find a summary of the major results of the study. We hope that you find it informative. We would like to take this opportunity to once again thank those individuals who participated in our study.

Sources of Workplace Stress

Here are some of the stressors that were widely reported by our sample of Nova Scotia workers. Many of these sources of stress were reported by more than half of the sample and are thus pressing concerns for Nova Scotians.

Percent of respondents reporting...

  • Having too much to do - 63%
  • Receiving conflicting instructions and/or expectations at work - 76%
  • Conflict between role as a parent or spouse and role as an employee - 51%
  • Lack of recognition for a job well done - 50%

Other sources of stress, such as violence and aggression, were reported by fewer people.

  % of respondents who have been:
Source of Aggression Physically Assaulted Sexually Harassed
Supervisors 3.7 1.4
Co-workers 10.5 3.4
Members of the Public 16.7 6.5

Despite the lower incidence for violence than for many other stressors, these numbers are still concerning. First, any incidence of violence in the workplace is unacceptable. Second, those in some professions likely experience even more violence and aggression (e.g., nurses, store attendants). Finally, relative to other available information, the incidence of violence and aggression may be higher in Nova Scotia than it is in other jurisdictions.

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Symptoms of Workplace Stress

15% of people who responded to the survey reported feeling high levels of strain symptoms, such as trouble sleeping, irritability, and sadness and 22% reported experiencing minor health problems including headaches, stomach problems, and frequent colds. These symptoms often follow prolonged and intense exposure to stressors.

In addition the members of our sample of Nova Scotia workers also reported the following negative health behaviours:

  • Nearly half (49%) exercise than less 3 times a week
  • 42% of do not get the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep a night
  • Over half (51%) skip meals
  • Almost 1/3 do not take down time for themselves
  • 37% do not receive regular medical check ups

What are Organizations in Nova Scotia Doing to Help Their Employees?

There are a number of things organizations can do to increase the overall health and well-being of their workers. The following are just some of the programs you and your follow survey responders reported that organizations in Nova Scotia offer their employees.

Type of Program % indicating their company offered the program % who said they used the program
Healthy eating options (cafeteria/vending machines) 29 24
Employee Assistance Program 42 12
Stress management 22 9
Massage therapy 43 15
Mental health specialist coverage 34 9
On-site athletic or gym membership 23 10
Flexible work schedules 35 30
35 26

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Some Positive Things to Report

Although the picture we have painted for you so far may seem fairly negative, the news was not all bad. Here are some of the positive things about the Nova Scotia workforce that we found from this study.

  • 75% of the workers indicated they were satisfied with their current job.
  • More than 80% of the respondents said they did not worry about job security.
  • 87% of people said their job allowed them to use the skills they have and to learn new skills.
  • 80% of people indicated that they have a say in work decisions that affect them.
  • People generally reported having good support systems in place both at work and home.

Where Do We Go From Here?

From this study we were able to obtain a snapshot of worker stress in the province of Nova Scotia.

In general we found that workers in this province report a substantial amount of work-related stress and that some are experiencing negative health symptoms as a result.

We are in the process of sharing this picture of the Nova Scotia workforce with those who work to improve occupational health including government departments (e.g., Health Promotion, Labour, Health), insurance and EAP providers, human resource professionals and business owners. The information gathered in this study will help them to improve their attempts to reduce work stress in Nova Scotia.

We will also use our improved understanding of the experience of workers in Nova Scotia to direct our future research projects – many of which focus on interventions designed to reduce work stress.

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