•Safety leadership is widely recognized as a critical element of business success. Ineffective safety leadership hinders the ability of many companies to achieve business goals.
•This article highlights several characteristics of effective safety leadership that result in safety culture excellence.
Safety leadership, defined as “the process of defining the desired state, setting up the team to succeed, and engaging in the discretionary efforts that drive the safety value” (Cooper, 2010a) is widely recognized to be critical (HSE, 2001), especially when the prevailing safety culture is weak (Martínez-Córcoles, Gracia, Ines, et al., 2011). A company’s safety culture is driven by the executive leadership team that creates, cultivates and sustains a company’s journey to excellence (HSE, 2008). These executives set the vision and strategic direction, provide resources, and constantly emphasize and reinforce the importance of safety to people and the business.Thus, ineffective safety leadership hinders the ability of many companies to achieve success (Cooper & Finley, 2013). Seeking to provide practical insights for safety practitioners, this article highlights several characteristics of effective safety leadership that result in safety culture excellence. These insights can be put to good use by safety practitioners, operational managers and employees.
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