New Horizons in Management series
Edited by George Saridakis and Cary L. Cooper
Chapter 11: Using HPWP to drive towards growth: the impact of occupational health and safety leadership
In recent years, investigations into several major industrial accidents, for example the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, the Chernobyl disaster, and the King’s Cross fire, have prompted a growing concern among scholars to derive new models and approaches to the management of occupational risks to health and safety (Nunez and Villanueva, 2011; O’Dea and Flin, 2003). Occupational accidents and injuries are generally known to provoke a broad range of negative consequences on the performance of an organization. They can cause significant losses to an organization’s human capital, generate huge costs due to losses in labour productivity, damage workplace equipment and decrease the organization’s corporate reputation (O’Dea and Flin, 2003; Fernández-Muñiz et al., 2007; Ring, 2011). Moreover, unsafe working conditions may undermine employees’ commitment to the organization, increase the likelihood for workplace conflicts and stifle the organization’s potential for growth and competitiveness (Fernández-Muñiz et al., 2009). As a result, occupational health and safety (OHS) matters are given high priority among scholars, managers and regulators. Research in OHS has shown that human resource management (HRM) is important for achieving acceptable levels of safety performance (Barling et al., 2003; Zacharatos et al., 2005; Griffin and Neal, 2000). According to Fernández-Muñiz et al. (2007), the human factor accounts for a high percentage of accidents occurring in complex process industries, and thus places an obligation on employers to adopt advanced HRM strategies to promote better safety-related work behaviours.
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