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How Leadership Can Create an Enduring Safety Culture


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Author J Ross


The foundation of effective leadership is communication. You can have all the leadership theories, models and training you want, but in the end it is all about leaders talking to, listening to and understanding the point of view of those below and above them.

The foundation of effective safety is peoples’ behaviours. Every incident, every near miss and every safe act comes down to what one person does and how that affects themselves and others. We tend to focus these behavioural considerations on the people at the ‘coal face’, those most in harm’s way. But it is the individual behaviours of everyone in the organisation, particularly those at the top, which are just as (if not more) important.

The foundation of effective safety leadership in the mining
industry is that it starts at the top, with the individual behaviours of
leaders. The behaviours of each and every leader will be reflected in their
teams. And where their teams are made up of leaders, these leaders will pass
these behaviours on to their teams and so on. It’s the sum total of what people
see their leaders do and what they do as a result, that creates the ‘culture’ of
the business – and it’s this culture that makes or breaks how safely people

Ross, J, 2011. How
leadership can create an enduring safety culture, in Proceedings 11th AusIMM Underground Operators’

pp  275-280 (The Australasian Institute of
Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).