Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Randall Capps (Director), Cecile Garmon, Dennis George

Degree Program

Educational Leadership Doctoral Program

Degree Type

Doctor of Education


The purpose of this study was to explore the correlation between employee perceptions of their supervisor’s commitment to safety (safety climate) and the actual rate of occupational injuries among the same employees. The study also aimed to examine the relationship between the employee perceptions of their supervisor’s leadership practices and the supervisor’s safety climate rating. In addition, this study examined the potential influence of employee demographic factors on their responses to survey questions. This research study sought to answer three primary questions: (1) Does a significant correlation exist between employee perceptions of his supervisor’s commitment to the health and safety of workers and actual injury/illness rates within an organization? (2) Does a significant correlation exist between specific leadership practices of supervisors and their safety climate ratings as perceived by their employees? (3) Is there a significant difference in employee views on safety climate and leadership practices of their supervisor based on employee demographic variables including gender, education level, skilled versus non-skilled positions, time in position, or shift assignment? Previous studies of similar construct focused on industrial settings such as manufacturing, construction, and oil and gas exploration. This study focused on workers engaged in maintenance type functions within the non-industrial setting of a university. The construct and findings of this study has applicability in a variety of settings including healthcare, general business, etc. Developing an understanding of the role that supervisors play in actively driving safety programs that affect their subordinates provides valuable insight into elements of supervisor selection and training. A survey instrument was developed utilizing a combination of previously validated “safety climate” questions, along with selected general leadership questions. A 7- point Likert scale was employed for the safety climate and leadership practices questions. Demographic questions were included to provide critical data for application for research question three. In addition, three questions were included to solicit data regarding each respondent’s injury experience for the previous 12 month period. The findings of this study, while in several instances not yielding statistically significant data, support several key assertions that appear to have relevancy in the study and practice of the critical importance of leadership in providing a safe workplace. A strong correlation emerged between participant responses to safety climate and general leadership actions questions, demonstrating the interrelationship of leadership to safety. In addition, the findings indicated that demographic factors including gender, education level, length of service, and assigned work shift had negligible effect on employee views of their leaders. The results of this study provide useful information regarding the influence of supervisor’s actions upon the safety performance of their employees. In addition, the study helps validate the relationship of general leadership practices of supervisors to the overall safety climate of their work groups. While additional research into the concept and practical application of safety climate as a predictor of safety performance should be undertaken, the findings of this study add to collective knowledge of the subject.


Educational Leadership | Health Policy | Higher Education | Leadership Studies