Online from: 1979
Subject Area: Human Resource Management
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|Title:||Role typology for health and safety representatives|
|Author(s):||Leigh-Ann Harris, (Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand), Kirsten Bendix Olsen, (Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand), Robyn Jane Walker, (Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand)|
|Citation:||Leigh-Ann Harris, Kirsten Bendix Olsen, Robyn Jane Walker, (2012) "Role typology for health and safety representatives", Employee Relations, Vol. 34 Iss: 5, pp.481 - 500|
|Keywords:||Employees participation, Employees relations, Health and safety representative, Impact ladder, Laws and legislation, New Zealand, Occupational health and safety|
|Article type:||Research paper|
|DOI:||10.1108/01425451211248532 (Permanent URL)|
|Publisher:||Emerald Group Publishing Limited|
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to focus on the development of a health and safety (HS) representative role typology that demonstrates how representatives enact their roles and improve occupational health and safety (OHS) under New Zealand law. It aims to consider the factors that influence the roles that HS representatives’ assume.
Design/methodology/approach – This qualitative, cross-perceptual study centres on the role enactments of eight HS representatives at two metal manufacturers. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with HS representatives, managers, workers, senior managers, OHS managers and a union convenor. “Types” were differentiated by the HS representatives’ purpose, activities and OHS impacts.
Findings – In total, four HS representative role “types” were identified: administrators, workshop inspectors, problem solvers and craft experts. Administrators implemented and operated OHS management systems and improved OHS management. Workshop inspectors undertook compliance and monitoring roles and improved workers’ attitudes towards OHS. Problem solvers found solutions to control hazards and improved production from an OHS perspective. Craft experts applied technical knowledge to influence strategic OHS decisions. Role enactment appeared to be influenced by representatives’ expert power, job roles and the organisational role definition. Representatives operating under both managerial and worker defined HS representative systems, increased worker “voice” by providing an avenue to redress OHS concerns.
Practical implications – Implications arise for OHS policy, HS representative training courses and organisational/managerial support.
Originality/value – The paper presents a HS representative role typology distinctively based on cross-perceptual data that also provides a more holistic perspective of the HS representative role by considering representatives’ purpose, role enactment and OHS impact.
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