An investigation into the effects of transformational safety leadership upon innovative safety behaviour

Ethics Approval Number: 2010/239

Student: Rodney Powell

Supervisor: Dr Graeme Ditchburn

Masters Disertation – Completed January 2013

The workers surveyed in the present study were obtained via OSH professionals and OSH trainers. This resulted in a “pro-safety” resultant response bias. Only 40% of the 162 respondents were neither Safety and Health Representatives nor Safety and Health Committee members. Notwithstanding this limitation, the results show, from a diverse range of industries, that workers do play a proactive role in workplace occupational health and safety. Their contribution therefore is broader than just one of complying with their employer’s initiatives. This is a form of ‘organisational behaviour’ that requires further research.

Even with the positively skewed results for safety behaviour questions, the findings also show that Safety Specific Transformational Leadership can have a significant impact upon worker safety related behaviour. A correlation of 0.52 between Proactive Behaviour and SSTFL for non-Safety and Health Representatives is particularly noteworthy.

The results also show that supervisory “good practice behaviours” such as encouraging reporting of OSH incidents and other concerns, chasing up outstanding issues and providing feedback also have a significant influence upon worker safety behaviour. But this is not as great as SSTFL.

The research reviewed in this paper has shown that leadership and safety culture/climate can influence worker contextual/extra-role behaviours. The results of the present study have shown that workers with the “extra-role” of Safety and Health Representative view their Supervisor’s leadership behaviour less positively and react to it differently. An important future need is for longitudinal research to determine if these differences are a cause (i.e. leading the workers to become Safety and Health Representatives) or an effect (i.e. the differences are a function of becoming Safety and Health Representatives). This has important implications for research into extra-role behaviours.