Leadership’s Effect on Safety Culture
- Mark A. Lundell (U.S. Navy Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training) | Cheryl L. Marcham (Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University)
- Document ID
- American Society of Safety Engineers
- Professional Safety
- Publication Date
- November 2018
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 36 - 43
- 2018. American Society of Safety Professionals
- 2 in the last 30 days
- 37 since 2007
- Show more detail
- Leadership is the antecedent to safety culture and is essential for fulfilling the intent of OSH throughout industry. It is critical to the creation, support and drive of an organization’s safety culture.
- Leadership techniques and approach must be flexible enough to adjust to the active working environments. Executives should understand the impact that leadership styles can have on safety culture.
- A professional safety perspective is essential for an organization to evaluate, uphold and embrace all levels of OSH culture. Safety professionals are a critical component of any organization.
In the 1900s, workplace deaths and injuries were a way of life for employees, with an estimated 18,000 to 23,000 workers dying annually (Hofmann, Burke & Zohar, 2017). Subsequent to the congressional establishment of the OSH Act of 1970, the occupational injury rates declined from 10.9 injuries per 100 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers in 1972 (OSHA, 2018) to 2.9 per 100 FTE workers in 2016 (BLS, 2017), making a considerable impact on the safety and health of employees throughout the population. Yet, with more than 45 years of OSHA’s regulatory controls and safety and health standards, combined with the technological and mechanical improvements of industry, workers still become injured or sick, and in 2016, 5,190 workers died as a result of occupational injury (BLS).
Those numbers are still unacceptably high when seen through the promise of the OSH Act, which entitles every worker to safe and healthful working conditions and makes all employers responsible to provide a work area free from recognized hazards. This promise cannot be kept solely by OSHA through writing regulations or by mere technological advancement. It must be carried on the backs of the leadership within industry that support and maintain a dedicated focus on the occupational safety of all their employees as a value in all they do.
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