Production supervisor impacts on subordinates' safety outcomes: an investigation of leader-member exchange and safety communication.J Safety Res. 2006; 37(5):469-77.JS
Supervisors are increasingly important to the functioning of manufacturing operations, in large part due to their role as leaders. While supervisors' relations and communication with their subordinates are known to be important in influencing subordinates' behavior, little is known about how these two factors will impact subordinates' safety. This study investigated how much each factor contributes to safety-related outcomes for blue-collar production employees.
Production employees at five Pennsylvania wood manufacturers completed a survey during their work shift. Five hundred and ninety eight employees provided data on leader-member exchange (LMX), safety communication, and safety-related events. Archival data on OSHA recordables were also obtained from the producers' human resources database.
Analyses found that the influence of LMX was greater than that of safety communication in predicting safety-related events. Neither LMX nor safety communication was significantly related to OSHA recordables. Results also demonstrated that employee job satisfaction and demographic variables such as gender and age have safety implications.
IMPACT ON INDUSTRY
Results from this study further emphasize the importance of production supervisors and illustrate the potential role of leader-member exchange in enhancing workplace safety. Specifically, organizations should foster positive social exchange between their employees and supervisors and enhance the leadership qualities of supervisors to help reduce workplace injuries.