• An Examination of the Relationship between Transformational Leadership Tendencies and Safety Outcomes in Selected Manufacturing Settings

      Boroughf, Barbara J.
      Each year about 6 to 8 percent of the U.S. workforce sustains a work related injury of which 3 to 4 percent of the injured population ends up losing time from work due to the severity of the injury (National Safety Council [NSC], 2011). According to the NSC Injury Facts (2011), every 147 minutes in the United States, a worker will be fatally injured, and every six seconds a worker will sustain an injury that is serious enough to require medical treatment. There is a wide variability in safety performance among organizations. Studies have found there is a relationship between transformational leadership and an organization’s safety climate and safety culture (Barling, Loughlin, & Kelloway, 2002; Kelloway, Mullen, & Francis, 2006). Safety climate and leadership studies have centered around cultural aspects of safety rather than examining leadership styles in relation to safety outcomes as determined by Incidence Rates, DART Rates, Severity Rates, and leadership style (Barling et al., 2002; Kelloway et al., 2006). The overall purpose of this study was to investigate the role of managing a manufacturing organization and the impact of the leadership style on the safety of employees. The purpose was to examine a specific leadership style and its relationship with safety outcomes as measured by Incidence Rate and Frequency Rate within a manufacturing organization. Further, the study was to determine if there was an association between a plant manager’s transformational leadership tendencies and the safety outcomes of the associated organization as measured by Incident Rate and Frequency Rate.Manufacturing plants from U.S. automotive manufacturing organizations were asked to participate in the study and the focus was on the plant managers from each facility. Direct-report managers from U.S. facilities were asked to complete the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire Rater Form (5X-Short) (MLQ) for the plant manager to whom they directly reported. The researcher used an email campaign to administer the questionnaire. Safety performance data for each facility was obtained from the 2010 OSHA Occupational Injury and Illness Log Form 300. Hours worked, to calculate Incidence and Frequency Rate, were also collected from each facility. Data were analyzed to determine if there was a statistically significant association between leadership behaviors and safety performance. Findings and suggestions for further research are discussed.