Date of Award

Spring 2017

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Louann Bierlein Palmer

Second Advisor

Dr. Sue Poppink

Third Advisor

Dr. Robert Biggins


Safety management, quality management, path analysis, theory of quality management, organizational modeling


The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) reports that every year 4.1 million American workers are seriously injured from workplace accidents at an annual direct and indirect cost estimated at hundreds of billions (OSHA, 2012). At the public level, actions to reduce the workplace deaths, injuries, and associated costs in the form legislation. At the private level, actions taken include implementing behavior based safety programs focused on various ways of encouraging employee behaviors to reduce reported injuries. The most recent move to drive down worker injuries focuses on the implementation of management systems by adopting principles used to prevent product quality failure (Manzella, 1997).

While much has been written about the reasons to implement a system to manage safety, no studies had been done on the possible alignment of theories behind managing quality with those behind managing safety. To this end, building on the established theory of quality management (ThQM) initially outlined by Anderson, Rungtusanatham, Schroeder, and Devaraj (1995), as retested and refined by other researchers, this research applies principles associated with the management of quality to the management of safety.

This research required adapting and adopting a path analytic model, survey questions, and statistical analyses from the work done on the ThQM in order to assess whether it could be applied to safety management. An on-line survey of 40 questions was used to test the seven model elements. The surveys were distributed to quality and safety professionals represented by the American Society for Quality (ASQ) and American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), for a total of 143 completed surveys, with the largest number coming from manufacturing organizations. Quality professionals were asked to indicate their level of agreement with the presence of various quality elements within their organizations, while the safety professionals were asked the same related to equivalent safety elements.

Analysis of responses yielded good internal consistency for the variables, and good correlations between the quality and safety professional responses. Finding no statistical differences between the quality and safety professionals allowed the data to be combined and used in the development of a path model fitted to this data. The proposed fitted path model has an r2 of .70 meaning that this model, which applies the same elements to both the management of quality and safety, explains 70% of variance within the outcome variable of perceived client satisfaction.

At a theoretical level, this study offers evidence that the organizational functions of safety and quality can follow the same management model, broadening the understanding of the ThQM, and advancing the research knowledge on this issue. At a practical level, the survey, statistical analysis, and modeling techniques could be used to help identify and focus resources on areas of weakness, and leverage strengths in the management of safety and quality to improve client satisfaction. Improved client satisfaction from the perspective of quality means an organization can better satisfy customers, while from the perspective of safety an organization can better satisfy employees by reducing injuries. Both are desired outcomes.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access