Introduction: Psychological contracts of safety are conceptualized as the beliefs of individuals about reciprocal safety obligations inferred from implicit or explicit promises. Although the literature on psychological contracts is growing, the existence of psychological contracts in relation to safety has not been established. The research sought to identify psychological contracts in the conversations of employees about safety, by demonstrating reciprocity in relation to employer and employee safety obligations. The identified safety obligations were used to develop a measure of psychological contracts of safety. Method: The participants were 131 employees attending safety training sessions in retail and manufacturing organizations. Non-participant observation was used to collect the data during safety training sessions. Content analysis was used to analyze the data. Categories for coding were established through identification of language markers that demonstrated contingencies or other implied obligations. Results: Direct evidence of reciprocity between employer safety obligations and employee safety obligations was found in statements from the participants demonstrating psychological contracts. A comprehensive list of perceived employer and employee safety obligations was compiled and developed into a measure of psychological contracts of safety. A small sample of 33 safety personnel was used to validate the safety obligations. Conclusions and impact on industry: Implications of these findings for safety and psychological contract research are discussed.
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