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Health and safety leadership: A study of employee perceptions and company leader responses in New Zealand’s electricity supply industry

Heidi Elizabeth Börner (School of Management – Ethical Leadership, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand)
Sandra Lassowski (Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft Berlin, Berlin, Germany)

International Journal of Public Leadership

ISSN: 2056-4929

Article publication date: 22 October 2019

Issue publication date: 22 October 2019

481

Abstract

Purpose

Based on the research findings the authors derive propositions for further research to explore the role of safety and ethical leadership in enhancing health and safety performance within New Zealand companies. The paper aims to discuss this issue.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on quantitative and qualitative health and safety data collected by Börner in New Zealand and analysed in the (unpublished) Master Thesis of Lassowski “Supporting Aspects of Organisational culture on Occupational Health and Safety” (2014) the authors will examine in this paper the responses of company governance and senior leadership to reports made from front-line staff about their perception of the safety culture and (potential) threats to health and safety.

Findings

The data indicate that company governance and senior leadership are sometimes reluctant to give adequate responses to employee reporting and fail to take effective measures to protect people and the business.

Research limitations/implications

Directors and senior leaders need to be vigilant that the company systems remain compliant with Health and Safety legislation and are aligned with best practices in the sector/organisation. Reports from employees using company systems on a daily basis are vital to assure that those systems work as they should, and that action can be taken when (potential) threats to health and safety are reported.

Originality/value

The workplace has a significant influence on injury, illness, fatalities and threats to environmental, community and individual wellbeing and this influence can be positive or negative. The research explores the link between the ethics of organisational leadership and its influence on workplace health and safety climate and outcomes.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

These data were collected by Orange Umbrella®, by the first author Heidi Elizabeth Börner and analysed by the second author, Sandra Lassowski, in the (unpublished) Master Thesis “Supporting Aspects of Organisational culture on Occupational Health and Safety” (2014).

Citation

Börner, H.E. and Lassowski, S. (2019), "Health and safety leadership: A study of employee perceptions and company leader responses in New Zealand’s electricity supply industry", International Journal of Public Leadership, Vol. 15 No. 4, pp. 257-273. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJPL-06-2019-0035

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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