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Biggs, H C, Dingsdag, D P, Sheahan, V L and Stenson, N J (2005) The role of collaboration in defining and maintaining a safety culture: australian perspectives in the construction sector. In: Khosrowshahi, F (Ed.), Proceedings 21st Annual ARCOM Conference, 7-9 September 2005, London, UK. Association of Researchers in Construction Management, Vol. 1, 137–46.
- Type: Conference Proceedings
- Keywords: collaboration; leadership; safety culture; safety management
- ISBN/ISSN: 0 902896 93 8
- URL: http://www.arcom.ac.uk/-docs/proceedings/ar2005-0137-0146_Biggs_et_al.pdf
The nature of the Australian construction industry, with strict time and work demands, serves to challenge construction organisations in how they can develop and maintain a positive site safety culture. Much research has examined the role management has in influencing culture, however more is needed to specifically elucidate the attributes required by leaders within organisations (Cox, Tomas, Cheyne, & Oliver 1998; Glendon & Stanton 2000; Williamson, Feyer, Cairns & Biancotti 1997). To answer this question, focus groups were held with eleven of the twelve largest construction companies across Australia. Discussion centred around safety culture and the attributes required by those who hold 'safety critical roles' i.e. key safety positions. Data was analysed qualitatively to identify key themes. The results indicated the strong role that leadership style, communication and workplace collaboration had in influencing the ability of organisations to develop and maintain a positive safety culture. Specifically, the participants indicated that leadership and communication styles that served to reduce conflict and work demands, and sought to involve workers in decision making and problem solving appeared to increase personalisation, which in turn increased safety awareness and safety performance.