Date of Conferral
Employee injury rates in U.S. land-based operations in the energy industry are 2 to 3 times higher relative to other regions in the world. Although a rich literature exists on drivers of safety performance, no previous studies investigated factors influencing this elevated rate. Leadership has been identified as a key contributor to safety outcomes and this grounded theory study drew upon the full range leadership model, situational leadership, and leader-member exchange theories for the conceptual framework. Leadership aspects influencing safety performance were investigated through guided interviews of 27 study participants; data analyses included open and axial coding, and constant comparisons identified higher-level categories. Selective coding integrated categories into the theoretical framework that developed the idealized, transformational leader traits motivating safe behaviors of leading by example, expressing care and concern for employees' well-being, celebrating successes, and communicating the importance of safety (other elements included visibility and commitment). Employee and supervisor participants reported similar views on the idealized leader traits, but low levels of these qualities may be driving elevated injury rates. Identifying these key elements provides the foundation to creating strategies and action plans enabling energy sector companies to prevent employee injuries and fatalities in an industry where tens of thousands of employees are subjected to significant hazards and elevated risks. Creating safer workplaces for U.S. employees by enhancing leaders' skills, building knowledge, and improving behaviors will improve the employees' and their families' lives by reducing the pain and suffering resulting from injuries and fatalities.