The role of safety culture and safety leadership on safety-related outcomes

Cakil Agnew, Laura Fruhen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapter


Following the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, concern over safety in hazardous
industries attracted wider attention to research that could help
improve the understanding of human behaviour and performance in
relation to risks and safety. Although earlier research mostly focused on
individual factors as sources of error vulnerability, organizational factors
such as safety culture and safety leadership were identified as the main
cause of major accidents (Neal et al. 2000; Borys et al. 2009). In line with
the theoretical developments emphasizing organizational, and leader commitment
to safety as one of the key factors of safety culture, a number of
organizations adopted safety culture assessments in their safety management
systems in order to evaluate the state of safety, as well as to identify
the weaknesses and strengths regarding their safety culture.
The Accident causation theories in high-risk industries progressed
via the technical period, human error, social-technical and, finally, the
organizational culture period where the interaction between the human
performance and the environment was acknowledged (see Wiegmann et
al. 2004). Pioneer work on safety culture was conducted in hazardous
industries such as aviation, manufacturing, military and nuclear power.
Later, despite the discrepancies between the industry and the healthcare,
the medical domain also started to seek guidance from the industry
and adopted various safety approaches around safety culture, and
leadership (Somekh 2005). These two concepts are closely connected yet
make key and unique contributions to workplace safety. This chapter
presents theories and findings on safety culture and safety leadership,
and how they relate to a number of safety outcomes in various work
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication Increasing Occupational Health and Safety in Workplaces
Subtitle of host publicationIndividual, Work and Organizational Factors
EditorsRonald Burke, Astrid Richardson
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781788118095
ISBN (Print)9781788118088
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


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