Leadership Lessons for OSH Professionals: How to Nurture Engagement for Injury Prevention
- E. Scott Geller (Virginia Tech)
- Document ID
- American Society of Safety Engineers
- Professional Safety
- Publication Date
- June 2016
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 63 - 71
- 2016. American Society of Safety Engineers
- 1 in the last 30 days
- 31 since 2007
- Show more detail
- This article describes evidence-based leadership strategies for promoting and sustaining employee engagement for occupational safety.
- Humanistic behaviorism is explained as a way to enhance the beneficial effect of behavior-based safety and nurture an injury-free workplace.
- The article illustrates the history and progress of Actively Caring for People, a process that aims to cultivate a compassionate culture in which people routinely surpass the norm to benefit the safety, health and well-being of others.
Before introducing seven leadership lessons to cultivate an injury-free workplace, let’s consider some qualities of leaders that distinguish them from managers. Safety managers hold employees accountable to work safely. In contrast, safety leaders motivate others to be self-motivated and self-accountable for safety—to go beyond the call of duty on behalf of their coworkers’ safety, health and well-being. Daniels and Daniels (2005) refer to going beyond what is expected as discretionary behavior. How can proactive discretionary behavior for safety be inspired? Answers to this critical question are provided here by proposing evidence-based guidelines that develop, support and sustain an interdependent brother’s/sister’s keeper culture.
Distinctions Between Management & Leadership
The roles of leaders are distinct from those of managers. Realizing these differences enables us to empathize with the requirements of managers, and appreciate the value of going beyond managing (or directing) people to leading (or inspiring) them. To be sure, safety managers can be safety leaders.
Leaders Focus on Process
Safety managers are typically held accountable for outcome numbers. Thus, they use outcome numbers to direct the behavior of those who report to them. Most people are assigned their responsibilities, and they do not choose their manager. In safety, outcome numbers are based on the relatively rare occurrence of an injury. These numbers (e.g., total recordable injury rate or TRIR) are reactive, reflect failure and are not diagnostic for injury prevention.
In contrast, safety leaders hold people accountable for accomplishing proactive process activities that can prevent harm and lower injury rates. When improvement in process activities is observed, leaders provide those responsible with positive recognition for their efforts. Those who feel appreciated for their safety proactivity develop a sense of personal responsibility for continuing to make safety-related contributions and improvements.
|File Size||612 KB||Number of Pages||9|