Academic journal article Global Business and Management Research: An International Journal

An Approach towards Safety Leadership Framework in Manufacturing Sector of Malaysia

Academic journal article Global Business and Management Research: An International Journal

An Approach towards Safety Leadership Framework in Manufacturing Sector of Malaysia

Article excerpt


Malaysia is one of the fastest growing economies of Asia (Ahmad, Kadir, and Shafie, 2011). Malaysia is aiming "to be in the top 10 economies on ease of doing business by 2020" (MIDA, 2015). This expansion of economy and ease for doing business policies means growth of currently operating business and many new ventures will also get started. The business cycle approach states that whenever there is economic growth with it the rate of injuries will also increase (Robinson and Shor, 1989).

The Malaysian Productivity Corporation (MPC, 2015), reports that, manufacturing sector recorded 6.2% of GDP growth in 2014-15 and is the second largest sector of Malaysian economy. But unfortunately, the sector's performance in maintaining occupational safety remains the worst among all the sectors. The Department of Occupational Safety and Health Malaysia (DOSH, 2015), reports 1724 accidents which includes disability and permanent disability, in the manufacturing sector for year 2015.

This indicates a serious occupational health and safety issue in the sector which needs to be rectified. The manufacturing sector of Malaysia always had poor levels of workplace safety standards (Kumar, Chelliah, Chelliah, Binti, and Amin, 2012). The injury rate in last five years (2011-2015) for manufacturing sector confirms this notion, as explained in Table. I. Malaysian Minister for Human Resource, Mr. Datuk Seri Richard Riot, believes that, in order to attract more foreign investment, Malaysian industry will have to reduce its accident and injuries rate. While Social Security Organization, believes that investing in safety leadership is the way forward for Malaysian economy (Report, 2014).

The role of management (leadership/supervisors) in shaping up employees perception about safety was identified long back (e.g. Cohen, 1977). However initially not much heed was given to how leaders can play an important role in ensuring a safer workplace (Myers and Facteau, 1992). But the empirical evidence afterwards started to negate this belief, as researchers started to realize the importance of human interactions and how these interactions can have a positive impact on safety outcomes (Thompson, Hilton, and Witt, 1998). A recent meta-analysis on occupational safety by, (Pilbeam, Doherty, Davidson, and Denyer, 2016) reported that leadership plays the most important role in assuring workplace safety.

As the safety literature started to focus more on domain specific leadership styles, like safety-specific transformational leadership (Barling, Loughlisn, and Kelloway, 2002). The current study follows the similar train and concentrates on safety-specific and contingent reward leadership styles to analyze, whether they can improve the safety situation in Malaysia's manufacturing sector. Furthermore the study will also discuss how passive leadership can create a serious safety hazard for followers. Many researchers have conjecture that passive leadership has detrimental effects on follower's safety. However it's a statement with minimal empirical proof (Mullen, Kelloway, and Teed, 2011).

Hence, there are three main objectives of this study; first, we propose that safety-prone leadership can monumentally improves the deteriorating safety situation of manufacturing sector of Malaysia. If leaders/supervisors are committed to ensure safety of the employees than it creates an overall culture within organizations that safety is a priority. Organizational policies and practices are best implemented through leadership and at the personal communication or supervisory level (Yukl, 2006). The safety literature also affirms that leadership plays a major role in ensuring safety at workplace (Clarke, 2013).

Second, the literature suggests that transformational leadership yields better results when incorporated with transactional leadership (Zwingmann et al., 2014). In countries where there is high power distance e. …

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