The impact of transformational leadership on safety climate and individual safety behavior on construction sites

Yuzhong Shen*, Chuanjing Ju, Tas Yong Koh, Steve Rowlinson, Adrian J. Bridge

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

103 Citations (Scopus)


Unsafe acts contribute dominantly to construction accidents, and increasing safety behavior is essential to reduce accidents. Previous research conceptualized safety behavior as an interaction between proximal individual differences (safety knowledge and safety motivation) and distal contextual factors (leadership and safety climate). However, relatively little empirical research has examined this conceptualization in the construction sector. Given the cultural background of the sample, this study makes a slight modification to the conceptualization and views transformational leadership as an antecedent of safety climate. Accordingly, this study establishes a multiple mediator model showing the mechanisms through which transformational leadership translates into safety behavior. The multiple mediator model is estimated by the structural equation modeling (SEM) technique, using individual questionnaire responses from a random sample of construction personnel based in Hong Kong. As hypothesized, transformational leadership has a significant impact on safety climate which is mediated by safety-specific leader–member exchange (LMX), and safety climate in turn impacts safety behavior through safety knowledge. The results suggest that future safety climate interventions should be more effective if supervisors exhibit transformational leadership, encourage construction personnel to voice safety concerns without fear of retaliation, and repeatedly remind them about safety on the job.

Original languageEnglish
Article number45
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes


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