Leadership and culture
Leaders in communities and organisations promote a positive culture for health and safety
What is leadership?
Leaders are people who influence the attitudes and behaviours of others sometimes through their formal role and sometimes by their personal influence. Leaders are found at every level of an organisation from the health and safety representative to managers and Chief Executive Officers.
A positive leadership and management style can improve an organisation’s work health and safety performance.
What is organisational culture?
An organisation’s culture consists of the values and behaviours that contribute to the social environment where work is done.
It can include the shared attitudes and beliefs that form part of the organisation’s written and unwritten rules.
How do leadership and culture affect work health and safety?
There is strong evidence that performance is improved when organisations address work health and safety risks along with other important business risks.
Leaders who set the example by showing their commitment to work health and safety, being actively involved in their business and encouraging and valuing workers’ participation are creating organisations which can be healthy and safe, and are also more likely to be innovative and productive.
When leaders make sure all business risks, including work health and safety, are effectively managed, and continually monitor and review all areas of their business’ performance, they will be open to opportunities for innovation, and alert to emerging hazards.
National activities will support the following outcomes:
- Communities and their leaders drive improved work health and safety.
- Organisational leaders foster a culture of consultation and collaboration which actively improves work health and safety.
- Health and safety is given priority in all work processes and decisions.
Examples of national activities
Members’ collaborative project on leadership
Safe Work Australia Members are working on a national collaborative project which will develop a set of principles and resources to inform best practice on leadership. This project is underway.
Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-2022 Virtual Seminar Series
Leadership and culture is one of the key themes of the Virtual Seminar Series, and many of the events relate to this topic, for example:
- Past, present and future work health and safety challenges and opportunities
- Walking the talk: leadership in practice
- Moving up the culture ladder
- Safety culture and leadership
- Leaders: Heads Up on mental health!
- Demonstrating leadership and corporate social responsibility in annual reports
- Linking safety leadership and safety culture in Queensland – Bechtel Corporation
- Australian chemical industry: Driving work health and safety leadership and supply chain collaboration
- Leadership in the transport industry
- Work health and safety in the transport industry – employer perceptions
- Leadership and work health and safety in challenging working environments
- Workplace health and safety, business productivity and sustainability
- Linking safety leadership and safety culture in Queensland – G&S Engineering
Measuring and reporting on work health and safety performance
Safe Work Australia has collaborated with academics at the International Governance and Performance Research Centre (IGAP) at Macquarie University on a project to improve the evaluation and reporting of work health and safety in business reports. To date, the following reports have been published:
When completed, this project will give senior decision makers in medium to very large organisations the type of information they need to meet their due diligence requirements under the work health and safety legislation. It will also guide businesses on the type of information investors and other stakeholders are seeking in company annual reports.
Leadership and culture case studies
- Supporting business to provide a mentally healthy workplace
- Mentoring makes a difference
- Improving work health and safety in the plastic and chemicals industry
- Innovative training improves safety in construction