Qual Saf Health Care 13:ii45-ii51 doi:10.1136/qshc.2003.009555
  • Original Article

Leadership for safety: industrial experience

  1. R Flin,
  2. S Yule
  1. Industrial Psychology Research Centre, University of Aberdeen
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor R Flin
 Industrial Psychology Research Centre, University of Aberdeen, King’s College, Old Aberdeen AB24 2UB, UK;


    The importance of leadership for effective safety management has been the focus of research attention in industry for a number of years, especially in energy and manufacturing sectors. In contrast, very little research into leadership and safety has been carried out in medical settings. A selective review of the industrial safety literature for leadership research with possible application in health care was undertaken. Emerging findings show the importance of participative, transformational styles for safety performance at all levels of management. Transactional styles with attention to monitoring and reinforcement of workers’ safety behaviours have been shown to be effective at the supervisory level. Middle managers need to be involved in safety and foster open communication, while ensuring compliance with safety systems. They should allow supervisors a degree of autonomy for safety initiatives. Senior managers have a prime influence on the organisation’s safety culture. They need to continuously demonstrate a visible commitment to safety, best indicated by the time they devote to safety matters.

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