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Safety leadership in the construction industry

Doctoral thesis
Authors Martin Grill
Date of public defense 2018-01-26
Opponent at public defense Sharon Clarke
ISBN 978-91-629-0371-8 (pdf); 978-91-629-0370-1 (tryckt)
Publisher University of Gothenburg
Place of publication Gothenburg
Publication year 2018
Published at Institute of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, Section of Occupational and environmental medicine
Language en
Keywords occupational safety, safety leadership, construction manager, participative leadership, rule-oriented leadership, transformational leadership, transactional leadership, passive leadership, safety climate
Subject categories Applied Psychology, Environmental Health and Occupational Health


The overall aim of this thesis was to identify and describe essential components of safety leadership behavior in the construction industry in Sweden and Denmark. The methods used were semi-structured interviews, cross-sectional and longitudinal questionnaire studies, and behavioral observations. The results of Paper I indicate that participative leadership and rule-oriented leadership may be vital for occupational safety at construction sites. The results of Paper II indicate that participative leadership is learned by future construction managers and employees during their vocational education and training. The results of Paper III indicate that transformational, active transactional, participative, and rule-oriented leadership were positively associated with occupational safety at construction sites; and that laissez-faire leadership was negatively associated with occupational safety at construction sites. The results of Paper IV provides qualitative context-specific descriptions of how transformational, active transactional, and passive/avoidant leadership are enacted by construction site managers. In addition, Paper IV confirm the positive association between transformational leadership and construction site safety climate as well as the negative association between passive/avoidant leadership and construction site safety climate. The results of Papers I and III indicate that a high occurrence of rule-oriented and participative leadership behaviors among construction managers at Swedish construction sites may help explain the relatively low injury rates in the Swedish construction industry.

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