Nine Ways To Demonstrate Top Leadership Commitment To Employee Safety And Health  

Everything rises and falls on leadership. Organisational leaders have a responsibility to acknowledge and communicate widely and timely the value of employee safety and health as a core function, and of the same priority and importance as the quality of products and services or customer service.

Senior leaders have a responsibility to personally embrace well-being through the evidence of it in their lifestyle and in supporting well-being in the organisation through their decision-making influence, resource allocation, and personal engagement. Leading by example is required for creating a culture of health in the organisation.

Supervisors and managers at all levels should be involved and actively participate in efforts that support safety, health and well-being of employees.  They are the direct links between the employees and upper management and will determine if safety, health and well-being initiatives or programmes succeed or fail. Supervisors act as gatekeepers to employee participation in programmes, and when there is a conflict with productivity demands, they may determine against participation. They determine what gets prioritised and done.


Top Leaders and Senior Management

1.       Build safety, health and well-being into the organisation’s mission and objectives -This makes safety, health and well-being a priority for the business with both strategic and long-term focus. Alignment with the mission is an enabler of safety, health and well-being of employees.

2.       Establish and clearly communicate the principles of the safety, health and well-being initiative or programme to all levels of the organisation; teach managers to value workers’ input on safety and health issues.

3.       Maintain the visibility of the health, safety and well-being initiative at the organisation’s highest levels by presenting data that is linked to the programme’s resource allocations. Promote routine communications between leadership and employees on issues related to safety, health, and well-being.

4.       Openly support and participate in workplace safety, health and well-being initiatives -If you do not have time for these activities, others will follow you as well. Your presence is a signal of importance to the organisation.

5.       Facilitate participation in safety, health and well-being across all levels of the workforce - There will be conflicts with other activities or goals and your preference will influence others.

6.       Add safety- and health-related standards into job descriptions and performance evaluations - People will prioritize and do what you measure and reward.

7.       Establish a mechanism and budget for acting on workforce recommendations – If recommendations are not implemented after you have agreed, the workers will be discouraged from making new ones and lose interest.

8.       Emphasize that shortcuts must not compromise worker safety and health.

9.       Provide adequate resources, including appropriately trained and motivated staff or vendors, space, and time. If necessary, ensure dedicated funding over multiple years, as an investment in your workforce.

We can also include other levels of leadership as well below.

Mid-Level Management

·        Recognize and discuss the competitive advantage (e.g. recruitment, retention, employee satisfaction, community engagement and reputation, and workforce sustainability) that health and safety initiatives bring to the long-term sustainability of the organisation.

·        Highlight examples of senior leadership’s commitment to health and safety initiatives.

·        Provide training on how managers can implement and support health and safety initiatives –aligned approaches, such as those related to work-life balance


For Managers

·        Encourage workers’ feedback on work conditions and working collaboratively with them to make changes

·        Encourage and reward team leaders and employees who take the initiative to improve work processes, reduce work stress, or improve the quality of work life

·        Providing recognition for achieving goals or meeting benchmarks in safety, health and well-being.

 [NOTE: Goals and benchmarks must be supportive of the health and protection of workers rather than be designed for under-reporting of safety concerns or incidents.]

·        Emphasizing that shortcuts or production demands must not compromise employee safety, health and well-being.



NIOSH [2016]. Fundamentals of total worker health approaches: essential elements for

advancing worker safety, health, and well-being. By Lee MP, Hudson H, Richards R, Chang

CC, Chosewood LC, Schill AL, on behalf of the NIOSH Office for Total Worker Health.

Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2017-112.