Date of Conferral







Kenneth J. Levitt


Nearly 20 employees are killed and 20,000 injured in the United States each day, with a contributing cause in nearly all being unsafe behavior. Unsafe behaviors are the result of a negative organizational safety culture, which includes the attitudes and beliefs toward safety transmitted from executives and front-line leaders to shop floor employees. While previous research indicated that front-line leaders have great impact on employee’s perception of safety culture, how executives impact the development of safety culture was less understood. The theory of planned behavior and social exchange theory were used in this descriptive phenomenological research study to address the research question associated with the lived experience of safety professionals observing the development of safety culture in their organization, as impacted by the interventions of executives. Participants were purposefully selected based on criteria for professional experience, time with their current organization, and their affiliation with professional safety organizations. Semistructured interviews were conducted, transcripts created, and hand-coding was employed to identify trends in responses. Emergent themes identified the most impactful methods employed by executives to drive the development of a positive safety culture; engagement, trust, ownership, and integration. The social change that this research can drive is an improvement in safety culture, leading to an increase in safe behaviors and a reduction in occupational deaths and injuries. The practical application of this study to the safety profession is to help guide executives on the most appropriate actions to take to improve safety culture and injury reduction in their organization through the demonstration of engagement, trust, ownership and integration.