Site managers and safety leadership in the oil and gas industry

A. O'Dea, Rhona Flin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

196 Citations (Scopus)


Management commitment to safety is recognised as a fundamental component of an organisation's safety culture (Reason, 1997. Managing the Risks of Organisational Accidents. Ashgate, Aldershot, UK). However, the role and experiences of site managers in relation to safety have rarely been examined. A survey questionnaire was conducted of 200 Offshore Installation Managers (OIMs) from 157 offshore oil and gas installations belonging to 36 organisations operating on the United Kingdom Continental Shelf. The questionnaire gathered data relating to OIMs' level of experience and style of leadership as well as their knowledge and experience of safety and leadership within the industry. The aims of the study are twofold. The first aim is to investigate the relationship between managers' level of experience and style of leadership with their safety attitudes and behaviour. The second aim is to investigate managers' perceptions of best practice in safety leadership and their beliefs about the key outstanding safety issues. Findings suggest that experience is not the dominant factor in determining leadership style or attitudes to safety, however, the less experienced OIMs and those with more directive styles of leadership were found to overestimate their ability to influence and motivate the workforce. It seems that although managers are aware of best practice in safety leadership, they do not always act in ways consistent with this. They report having considerable difficulty in motivating and controlling some safety crucial aspects of workforce behaviour such as getting workers to accept ownership of safety and getting workers to report near misses. In terms of outstanding safety issues, it appears that improvements still need to be made in a number of areas such as the standardisation of safety culture; the harmonisation of safety practices and procedures across the industry; improved workforce competency and increased workforce involvement in safety activities and decision making. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-57
Number of pages18
JournalSafety Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • site managers
  • safety
  • oil
  • gas
  • offshore installations
  • WORK


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