The Management of Occupational Health and Safety: Managers’ Perceptions of the Challenges, Necessary Support and Organisational Measures to support Managers
Research output: Book/Report › Doctoral thesis
|Publisher||Tampere University of Technology|
|Number of pages||149|
|State||Published - 15 Dec 2017|
|Publication type||G4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)|
|Name||Tampere University of Technology. Publication|
This study discusses the management of OHS as an aspect of managerial work and from managers’ point of view. The qualitative study aims to develop new knowledge regarding the challenges and necessary support associated with managing OHS, as well as to suggest organisational measures that can be applied to support managers’ OHSrelated work. The results are based on the prior OHS literature and three empirical substudies. In sub-study 1, thematic interviews (n=17) and qualitative inquiries (n=55) were carried out with top, middle and frontline managers from three public service organisations (a governmental expert organisation, a municipal social and healthcare service unit and a public vocational education organisation). In sub-study 2, thematic interviews (n=49) were carried out with middle and frontline managers from five industrial companies (a chemical processing company, an energy production company and three industrial service companies). In sub-study 3, a literature review and related categorisation were supplemented with thematic interviews (n=17) in a governmental expert organisation. The results of the sub-studies were used in the construction of a conceptual framework of organisational measures intended to support managers with regards to OHS management. The study approaches OHS management from the managers’ viewpoint, which has only rarely been studied.
According to the participating managers, the most challenging OHS management situations found in public organisations are related to the psychosocial risks contained within the work environment. The managers considered their employees’ mental overload, instances of negligence and the consideration of individual needs to be difficult OHS issues to manage. Due to the current economic situation and the associated lack of resources, the managers perceived both pressure and concern in relation to their employees’ well-being. In the industrial organisations, managerial overload, production pressure and role conflicts were perceived as the main factors that hinder the managers' commitment to OHS. However, the managers did not request more resources from upper management, presumably due to the tight economic situation. In order to cope with difficult OHS situations, the managers focused on individual relations and emotional support from their immediate superior, their colleagues, and OHS and human resources (HR) professionals.
The conceptual framework of organisational measures intended to support managers in OHS management includes top management support regarding OHS management, uniform and simple OHS procedures, and the systematic development of OHS management. Developing consistent OHS attitudes and commitment among all the managers requires strong support on the part of top management. An emphasis on leadership development is important for managers to be able to motivate their employees’ OHS participation and compliance and, hence, improve OHS performance. Existing management development practices, for example, management training, can provide easy ways to incorporate OHS management and leadership perspectives into general management development. Developing the support, resources and understanding of managers in relation to OHS may considerably improve both employees’ well-being and the performance of organisations.
This dissertation contributes to the research by providing new knowledge regarding OHS management from the managers’ point of view, in the organisational context and in relation to organisational performance. Moreover, it provides a research-based conceptual framework for evaluating and developing OHS management within various organisations. The dissertation also provides a practical contribution by discussing OHS management as an integral part of general management and by pointing out the managers’ central role in improving OHS. Moreover, it suggests practical organisational measures to support managers and promote their consistent commitment to OHS.