It has been said that leaders are born, not made. To a certain extent, this is true. Many corporate heads are undoubtedly possessed with a degree of leadership skills. In most cases though, these leadership skills are centred on their ability to lead and manage a business from an economic perspective. Economics, finance, law, market sectors, corporate growth, mergers and acquisitions, business strategy etc.

Throughout their careers, business leaders often attend numerous seminars and training courses designed to improve their skill sets in these and many other similar disciplines with the focus, quite understandably on improvements to the performance of the business. Few spend much time in the business of safety and few have been lucky enough to survive the "eye opening event" which has befallen many a corporate chief; sometimes with disastrous consequences.

The safety culture of an organization is a direct consequence of the attitudes of the chief executive officer. It percolates from the board of directors, through the senior executive all the way to the workforce. His approach becomes the organisation's approach. His attitude, the attitude of everyone down the line.

This paper examines the essentials of being an effective leader in the field of HSE. It considers what factors go to make up a good safety leader and presents suggestions about how today's corporate bosses can instil a culture of safety first at every level in the organization.

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