12 supervisory behaviors that will reduce your injury rate and improve safety culture

by | Dec 28, 2016 | Leadership

Supervisory behaviours are directly linked to workers’ involvement in accidents finds a study conducted for the UK safety regulator (HSE) [1]. Read more to learn about 12, most powerful safety leadership behaviours.

At the end of the post, you will find FREE, print-ready POSTER listing 12 supervisory behaviours which reduce injury rates and improve safety culture.

Dov Zohar, a safety professor who coined the term “safety climate” for the very first time in 1980, showed that a supervisor’s behaviours could actually predict the injury rate [2]–[7].

This means that by simply observing how a supervisor behaves, one can predict whether their team will have a high or а low injury rate. To further credit this notion, Zohar’s findings were confirmed by several other researchers from various countries, including  USA, Canada and more [8]–[13].

WHY it works

Safety-related decisions are frequently based on personal experience. Employees are accustomed to performing similar actions from a day to day basis as their job related tasks might not very greatly. Therefore, they learn “firsthand” what happens when they behave unsafely, which in most cases results in nothing bad.

Given that the negative outcome of unsafe behaviour (i.e. an accident) is rare, many people adopt risky behaviours for which, in many cases, they have an immediate and certain reward.

Supervisors, through their interactions with the workers, can counterbalance this naturally occurring effect and emphasize safety.

However, it is important to note that some behaviours are more effective than others and should thus be implemented accordingly.

For example, shouting at or embarrassing workers will not help towards building a strong safety culture.

Luckily, these behaviours can be taught, as they may not always be intuitive or natural for people.

12 Supervisory behaviours

1. Engage employees in solving safety problems.
2. Discuss how to improve safety.

3. Welcome feedback and listen to reports of safety problems and incidents.

Coach and Explain
4. Provide constructive feedback for unsafe behaviours.
5. Spend time with operators to help them see problems before they arise.

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6. Educate and explain why safety is important.

7. Often praise and reward safe behaviours.

Encourage and lead by example
8. Continuously encourage employees to work safely.
9. Talk about your beliefs of the importance of safety.
10. Don’t turn a blind eye to safety even when you are behind schedule and under pressure.
11. Be fair.

12. Often visit the workplace and observe safe behaviors.

SAFETY POSTER: 12 Safety Leadership Behaviours which reduce injury rates and improve safety culture

Download this FREE, print-ready poster listing supervisory behaviours which reduce injuries and improve safety culture.

  • Attract attention of your supervisors and give them food for thought.
  • Involve your workforce in the discussion on which supervisory behaviours are most helpful to them.
  • Display the poster in the office and discuss with the middle and senior managers which behaviours they could demonstrate more often 

Posters are available in two versions: Amercian English and British English – different spelling of the word “behavio(u)r”.


Please sign-up to unlock this content:

SAFETY POSTER 12 Safety Leadership Behaviors

POSTER BRITISH ENGLISH: 12 supervisory behaviours which reduce injuries and improve safety culture

Safety Poster with a list of 12 supervisor behaviors which reduce injuries and improve safety culture

POSTER AMERICAN ENGLISH: 12 Leadership behaviors which reduce injuries and improve safety culture













A mining company from Canada used these 12 supervisory behaviours to develop their supervisors and improve their safety.


  1. Introduced training to teach supervisors the behaviours listed above.
  2. Followed-up training with one-to-one coaching to help supervisors apply these behaviours and provide ongoing feedback regarding their progress.
  3. Integrated these behaviours with the recruitment process, i.e. candidates for a new supervisor position would be asked during an interview to discuss how they demonstrated these behaviours in the recent past.
  4. Integrated with the promotion process, i.e. every person who aspired to be promoted to a supervisory position would have to demonstrate these behaviours
  5. Integrated these behaviours with the annual performance appraisal, i.e. during their performance conversation every supervisor was expected to demonstrate how they applied these behaviours
  6. Integrated the behaviours with the induction and on-boarding of new supervisors.


As a result, after just 12 months supervisors adapted to the new set of behaviours and the injury rate in the mine decreased.

Research Studies We Used

1] HSE and M. Fleming, “Effective supervisory safety leadership behaviours in the offshore oil and gas industry,” Health and Safety Executive, Edinburgh, 1999.

[2] D. Zohar, “Modifying Supervisory Practices to Improve Subunit Safety: A Leadership-Based Intervention Model,” J. Appl. Psychol., vol. 87, no. 1, pp. 156–163, 2002.


[3] G. Luria, D. Zohar, and I. Erev, “The effect of workers’ visibility on effectiveness of intervention programs: Supervisory-based safety interventions,” J. Safety Res., vol. 39, no. 3, pp. 273–280, 2008.


[4] D. Zohar and G. Luria, “A Multilevel Model of Safety Climate: Cross-Level Relationships Between Organization and Group-Level Climates,” J. Appl. Psychol., vol. 90, no. 4, pp. 616–628, 2005.


[5] D. Zohar and O. Tenne-Gazit, “Transformational leadership and group interaction as climate antecedents: A social network analysis,” J. Appl. Psychol., vol. 93, no. 4, pp. 744–757, 2008.


[6] D. Zohar, “A Group-Level Model of Safety Climate: Testing the Effect of Group Climate on Microaccidents in Manufacturing Jobs,” J. Appl. Psychol., vol. 85, no. 4, pp. 587–596, 2000.


[7] D. Zohar and G. Luria, “The use of supervisory practices as leverage to improve safety behavior: A cross-level intervention model,” J. Safety Res., vol. 34, no. 5, pp. 567–577, 2003.


[8] S. Yule and R. Flin, “Investigating leadership using the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire,” Electricity Association Annual Safety Conference. Brighton, 2002.


[9] S. J. Yule, R. Flin, and A. J. Murdy, “Modeling managerial influence on safety climate,” the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) conference. San Diego, CA, 2001.


[10] R. Flin and S. Yule, “Leadership for safety: Industrial experience,” Qual. Saf. Health Care, vol. 13, pp. 45–51, 2004.


[11] J. E. Mullen and E. K. Kelloway, “Safety leadership: A longitudinal study of the effects of transformational leadership on safety outcomes,” J. Occup. Organ. Psychol., vol. 82, no. 2, pp. 253–272, 2009.


[12] J. Mullen, “Investigating factors that influence individual safety behavior at work,” J. Safety Res., vol. 35, no. 3, pp. 275–285, 2004.[13] E. K. Kelloway, J. Mullen, and L. Francis, “Divergent effects of transformational and passive leadership on employee safety,” J. Occup. Health Psychol., vol. 11, no. 1, pp. 76–86, 2006.



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