Overcoming Overload: Examining the Importance of Prioritizing Safety and Safety Leadership

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2020-12

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Abstract

The relationship between stressors and safety outcomes has been well-documented in the occupational safety literature and has contributed to the theoretical understanding and practice of reducing occupational safety incidents; however, role overload is a job stressor that continues to increase despite its relationship to safety outcomes. The current study examined the relationship between role overload, safety motivation, safety behaviors, and accidents utilizing data collected from employees at an oil and gas pipeline organization. First, I examined the relationship between role overload and safety motivation as a mechanism by which overload is related to safety behaviors and accidents, specifically by utilizing expectancy theory. Second, I aimed to incorporate situational strength theory within the model of workplace safety to understand how safety-specific transformational leadership and priority of safety moderate the proposed relationship between role overload and safety motivation. I analyzed the proposed model using structural equation modeling (SEM) with Mplus 8.0 (Muthén & Muthén, 2017). I found that safety motivation mediates the relationship between role overload and safety behaviors and accidents. Furthermore, I found that safety-specific transformational leadership moderates the relationship between role overload and safety motivation, but priority of safety did not. The findings may help academics and practitioners better understand how role overload is related to safety motivation and how situational factors can minimize the negative effects of role overload. Moreover, unexpected findings of the study may encourage future researchers to examine how safety-specific transformational leadership interacts with safety predictors to increase safety motivation.

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Keywords

Role Overload, Safety, Transformational Leadership, Priority of Safety

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