Can Teamwork Promote Safety in Organizations?

Eduardo Salas, Tiffany M. Bisbey, Allison M. Traylor, Michael A. Rosen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


In this review, we conceptualize teamwork as the linchpin driving safety performance throughout an organization. Safety is promoted by teams through various mechanisms that interact in a complex and dynamic process. We press pause on this dynamic process to organize a discussion highlighting the critical role played by teamwork factors in the engagement of safe and unsafe behavior, identifying five team-level emergent states that enable effective teamwork and safety: psychological safety, team trust, collective efficacy, shared mental models, and situation awareness. Additionally, we consider foundational conditions that support team-driven safety, the development of safety culture, and the importance of team safety climate in shaping performance. We discuss leveraging teams to generate safety and identify directions for future research investigating the relationship between teamwork and safety. Overall, we submit that researchers and practitioners would benefit from taking a systems perspective of safety by integrating principles of team science to better understand and promote safety in organizations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)283-313
Number of pages31
JournalAnnual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior
StatePublished - Jan 21 2020


  • accidents
  • climate
  • occupational safety
  • team performance
  • team processes
  • teamwork

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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