Report Assignment Sample -HEALTH AND SAFETY LEADERSHIP REPORT FOR ELECTRICITY COMPANY OF GHANA (ECG)
Report Assignment Sample -HEALTH AND SAFETY LEADERSHIP REPORT FOR ELECTRICITY COMPANY OF GHANA (ECG)
The ECG is a state-owned organization that enjoys monopolistic power in the sense that, it is the only power distribution company that distributes power throughout southern Ghana. Although the Northern part of Ghana is geographically larger than the Southern part, the southern part happens to the industrial hub of the country. This report presents an overview of the health and safety-related problems in the electricity company of Ghana while discussing the appropriate leadership response for these problems.
Though the overall goal of the report was to conduct an appraisal of the leadership actions for mitigating the health and safety-related problems, the paper also highlighted relevant literature on leadership styles and models that further provided credence to the recommendations in the paper. Pertaining leadership style most appropriate for managing health and safety practice in ECG, the report, recommended the transformational leadership style noting that employees who work under transformational leaders are more inclined to exert extra effort to ensure safety standards are met when discharging their duties, and consequently perform above and beyond perceived expectations or job requirements.
The reports, also recommend a Leader-Member Exchange model, as its fusion with transformational leadership style can make employee safety concerns at work is increase, which causes an improvement in safety commitment and communication.
The Electricity Company of Ghana is a national corporate body that was established in 1947. Like several companies in Ghana, it has evolved. It was previously known as the electricity department, then became Electricity Division, it was again changed to the Electricity Corporation of Ghana and currently is known as the Electricity Company of Ghana. It has been legally mandated by the government of Ghana to distribute safe and reliable electricity to industrial and domestic consumers within southern Ghana on a sound commercial basis.
The company’s vision is to be counted among the leading electricity distribution companies in Africa. And its mission is to provide quality reliable and safe electricity services to support the economic growth and development of Ghana. The ECG has 12 directorates namely engineering, operations, finance, legal, audit, human resource, customer service, procurement, materials and transport, estate and premises, network projects, and ICT. It is however broken down to ten operational regions namely Accra East, Accra West, Tema, Eastern, Central, Volta, Western, Ashanti East, Ashanti West, and Sub Transmission.
In the Electricity Company of Ghana, Engineers and Technical workers work with live wires and are exposed to step/voltage, some also stay at the control rooms and substations that are full of electro-magnetic x-ray machines for long hours. Additionally, most cables are located in bushes which exposes them to harmful reptiles. It has been further observed that most transformers these workers work on are very old, which exposes them to poly chloride biphenyl (PCB), and other carcinogens. Again, the nature of the power distribution industry requires that workers of the Electricity Company of Ghana come into direct contact with customers from time to time in order to successfully execute their duties.
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However, more often than not these workers stand the chance of being physically, verbally, and emotionally abused by enraged customers, especially in conducting disconnection exercises (Kumi, 2017). These and many other health and safety issues can affect employees’ health and for that matter may retard the growth of the company if they are not well managed.
Safety is a leading concern in high-risk industries of which energy is no exception. Most industrial accidents and injuries occur on the job and have been highly associated with employee’s unsafe acts (Addai, et al., 2016). Studies have also pointed to the fact that organisational, managerial and human factors rather than purely technical failures are prime causes of accidents in high-reliability industries (Addai, et al., 2016).
One would therefore expect organizations to place a premium on selecting the right leaders to place in safety sites. In practice, however, the opposite is demonstrated. Much emphasis is placed on technical factors; having well-constructed buildings, and ensuring machinery and plants meet safety requirements. These appear to be prioritised to the neglect of the sort of leaders or employees who are to ultimately ensure that safety is carried out to the last detail.
Investigations into the leadership and safety relationship have progressed substantially over the last 30 years, however, a greater number of these studies have focused on the influence and importance of overall effective leadership or general leadership styles on a variety of safety outcomes (von Thiele Schwarz et al., 2016). Nonetheless, research into leadership and safety has established that transformational and transactional leaders are the best leadership choices for safety sites (Çalış and Büyükakıncı, 2019). However, the underlying mechanisms by which leadership may influence safety are not yet well understood. As leadership is often conceptualized as a multidimensional construct. In light of this von Thiele Schwarz et al. (2016) made a call for researchers to put in more concerted efforts to understand both the moderating and mediating mechanisms that link transformational leadership to follower outcomes and commented that, only a few preliminary studies had simultaneously examined mediated moderation or moderated mediation.
Hoffmeister et al. (2014) also made a similar call for the study of the influence some moderating factors could have on the leader-employee safety relationship. Although employers are legally mandated to ensure the safety of their employees, in Ghana there are no sound laws enforcing safety issues with greater emphasis being laid on increasing productivity and profitability, whiles compromising health and safety standards, procedures and policies.
It is necessary for organizations to focus on factors that enhance health and safety standards at work specifically with respect to workers health and safety and focus on ways of enforcing and encouraging these health and safety standards among employees. This report is a response to this call, as from review of studies conducted, there is the need to investigate the leadership actions for directors, board members, business owners and organisations to lead health and safety at work in the Ghanaian context and to determine the interrelationship between leadership styles and employee health and safety at Electricity Company of Ghana.
Leading health and safety at work
Several studies have reported varying findings on the relationship between transformational and transactional leadership styles and health and safety practices. In view of this results are inconclusive (Çalış, and Büyükakıncı, 2019; Griffin & Hu, 2013). For instance, Çalış, and Büyükakıncı (2019) in examining the effects of leader influence tactics on employee safety in the UK, used structural equations modelling to assess a broad group of general leadership tactics on a variety of safety outcomes. Interestingly safety p\articipation emerged as the safety outcome in the model.
This demonstrates the significant influence leaders may exert not only in ensuring that employees comply with rules and procedures but also in encouraging the extra effort required by employees to engage in safety participation. The findings also highlighted the role of rational persuasion, a leader influence tactic more aligned with transactional than transformational leadership, in enhancing safety participation. Interestingly earlier researchers’ von Thiele Schwarz et al (2016) linked rational persuasion which is a cost-benefit exchange relationship to an element of commitment called target commitment.
Explanations they gave to this concept connote commitment to a task job or work. That is to say, the use of rational persuasion encourages employee commitment to a task. This is an attestation to Zacharatos, Barling, and Iverson (2005) assertion that the use of commitment-oriented leadership which is currently a leading practice, could be associated with improved safety provided safety is embedded within the job, task, or is made an organizational target.
Furthermore, Griffin and Hu (2013) also conducted a study to examine the impact of specific leader behaviours on employee’s safety performance among Australians from various occupations and work roles. Path analysis revealed that safety inspiring, similar to inspirational motivation of transformational leadership promotes safety participation. On the other hand, safety monitoring similar to management by exception (transactional leadership) showed inconclusive results with safety participation. Griffin and Hu (2013) also looked at two dimensions of transactional leadership; management by exception active (MBEA) and management by exception passive (MBEP). He reported consistent positive significant relationships between (MBEA) and a variety of safety behaviours. Still reporting on transactional leadership, he observed consistent significant negative relationships between (MBEP) and safety participation.
Liu et al (2019) also termed transactional leadership as compliance motivation and similarly reported a negative relationship with safety participation Griffin and Hu (2013) on the other hand however reported an indirect positive relationship between transactional leadership and safety participation. Griffin and Hu (2013), however, raised an argument that there could have been some moderating or mediating factors responsible for the inconsistent findings between transactional leadership and safety participation; and by introducing a variable known as safety learning there finally appeared to be some relationship between transactional leadership and SCB. Although results on the transformational, and transactional leadership-safety relationship appear to be inconclusive, the majority of studies reveal a more positive relationship between transformational leadership and SCB (Hofmann et al, 2014).
Although not specifically addressing the relationship between leadership styles and health and safety practice, Hofmann et al. (2014) in using participants from the US army in examining leader-member exchanges with SCB, obtained results that confirmed that employees chose to perform health and safety practices when they enjoyed high-quality exchange relationships, more likely to be transformational than transactional with their superiors.
Also, theoretical conceptualizations of transformational leadership point to the fact that it has direct significant effects on the motivation and commitment behaviours of employees which drives them into putting in extra efforts known as acts of citizenship on the job or work. For instance, Conger and Kanungo (1998) have opined that by creating a positive vision of the future of the organization, transformational leaders motivate employees to work and go beyond job descriptions to engage in extra roles in anticipation of that glorious organizational future.
Impact of Globalization on health and safety Practices
Globalisation in a firm or an enterprise has some effects on its stakeholders, including management, employees, competitors, customers and investors (Kumi, 2017). While globalisation sometimes introduces business changes that are unsuccessful, others are successful and tend to be advantageous to the company or organization (Molnar et al., 2019). It is thus, fundamental for managers of firms to properly plan changes to restore better performance and competitiveness of an organisation). For HSE, Leadership responsibility during organisational change or globalisations centres around managing the health and safety effects on employees including their stress management (Molnar et al., 2019; Hoffmeister et al 2014).
In view of this, von Thiele Schwarz (2016) argued to be able to deal with future change implementations, managers embarking on globalisation must be abreast with the previous ways in which their organisation facilitated change and its sensitivity to the workforce. This is because most change management process is accompanied by health and safety standard issues and the process itself is a stressor. For instance, Honyenuga, and Dogbeda, (2017) in a study of the energy sector in Ghana, the researcher observed that employees’ involvement in the change process is mostly limited to the provision of enough information on improvement in the equipment used.
The study further indicated that change generally heightens occupational stress which has a negative effect on employees’ health. Thus, it is suggested that managers should be able to deal with change and also assist their subordinates and all employees in doing the same to update the health and safety practices in the organisation (Honyenuga, and Dogbeda, 2017).
In ECG specifically, the changes in the electricity sector that have occurred in the past decades brought about new demands to the workers and has also increased precarious working conditions. Social transformations coupled with newer energy models have aggravated the problem by escalating the worker’s activities (Griffin and Hu, 2013). Growing responsibilities and demands on Engineers, from the industrial sector, the service sector has certainly exposed them to work-related stress and on the job injuries. This has consequently resulted in health problems among them: illness, skin irritation, or breathing problems to name a few.
Medical and social costs due to these problems have grown increasingly in the past few years, with figures reaching billions of shillings or dollars in various countries. Thus Griffin and Hu (2014) recommended that the ever-increasing population coupled with the growing demand for electricity calls for electricity distribution companies to explore diverse ways of managing business processes to effectively deliver on their mandate while protecting its employee’s health and safety standards.
APPLICATION OF THEORY TO PRACTICE
Leadership Styles for improved HSE in ECG
With regards to the leadership style in the ECG, Kumi (2017) have emphasized that, transformational and transactional leadership appear to be dominating leadership in the company. This is mainly because, they are seen to be of relevance to the organizations and further contribute immensely to the success of the organizations (Honyenuga, and Dogbeda, 2017). Transformational leaders stimulate, inspire and transform the values, aspirations, needs, and priorities of followers, transactional leadership style on the other hand is basically a cost benefit exchange relationship between a superior and a subordinate, or leader and follower in which both the leader and the follower influence each other to gain something of value. However, the policy document for safety health and environment unit indicates that “both employees and employer shall respect the rights of each other in the discharge of their respective obligation as specified in the policy documents”. It also harmonises the steps and procedures employees and employers ought to follow in emergency situations, compliance, and reporting issues relating to safety suggesting that the front-line leaders’ employees directly reports to must be transformational leaders.
The policy documents also encouraged safety participation which it referred to as “a broad group of behaviours that support workplace safety, such as helping co-workers with safety-related issues, seeking to promote safety programs demonstrating initiative, making suggestions for change, voluntarily attending safety meetings and improving safety”. According to Çalış and Büyükakıncı (2019) this safety participation is best practiced under the transformational leadership style. As such, employees who work under transformational leaders are more inclined to exert extra effort to ensure safety standards are met when discharging their duties, and consequently perform above and beyond perceived expectations or job requirements. This is usually because, they feel motivated by the actions of their leaders to do so. This assertion has been supported by other renowned scholars (Griffinand Hu 2013: Akomaning-Adofo, (2010). This implies that for engineers and technicians in ECG to engage in safety health and safety practices, front line leaders and supervisors must adopt transformational leadership tendencies.
Though Liu et al (2019) concluded that, transactional leaders are also ideal choices in meeting employee health and safety needs which encompasses physical safety, the passive nature of this leadership style can make leaders fail to interfere in safety issues until problems become severe. Griffinand Hu (2013), who reported consistent significant negative relationship between transactional leadership (management by exception passive (MBEP), and safety participation also suggest that in cases where employees look up to their leaders, it is likely that such subordinates take up a relaxed and unconcerned attitude waiting for safety issues to become problematic before reacting. Hoffmeister et al. (2014) in testing the individual facets of both transformational and transactional leadership style on a variety of safety outcomes pointed to the fact that, transformational leadership consistently, positively predicted a variety of safety behaviours including safety participation; perhaps by virtue of the nature of that leadership style.
Leadership Model for improved HSE in ECG
The numerous theories propounded on the concept of leadership can be broadly categorized into two. The first category focuses on the characteristics of effective leaders and attempts to explain individual, group, and organizational performance outcomes by identifying and examining specific leader behaviours directly related to them. The second category, on the other hand, is a relationship-based approach that directly concentrates on how one-on-one social exchanges between leader and follower evolve, nurture, and are sustained. This relationship is best conceptualized by the leader-member-exchange theory (LMX) (Graen & Uhl-Bien, 1995).
Leader-Member Exchange (LMX), refers to the quality of the working relationship between an employee and his or her immediate supervisor (von Thiele Schwarz, 2016). It was originally referred to as the vertical dyad linkage theory. It conceptualizes leadership as a process, that is centred on the interaction or quality of working relationship between leaders and followers, or an employee and his immediate supervisor. LMX is the most researched and stands tall amongst other leadership theories and this is because it assesses the leader-follower relationship from a two-way perspective.
Leader-Member Exchange theorists have argued that time pressures, energy constraints, and work demands of leaders, make it practically impossible for them to give equal attention to all followers. Consequently, key subordinates usually become beneficiaries of close leader-follower relationships as and when they do develop. Nonetheless, the nature and quality of these leader-follower relationships are more dependent on Personality factors, implicit theories and self-schemas; than on demographic characteristics like age gender and ethnicity.
Studies and assertions by other scholars have also demonstrated that LMX is an important element that explains the effect of leader behaviours on subordinate outcomes. For instance according to Hofmann and Morgeson (1999) when transformational leadership style is fused with a high-quality LMX, employee safety concerns at work is bound to increase, which causes an improvement in safety commitment and communication. LMX relationships also suggest that employees are likely to engage in extra role behaviours in relation to safety when they have high-quality exchange relationships with their leaders, more likely a transformational than transactional leader (Hofmann & Morgeson, 1999; Hofmann et al., 2003). This is because LMX is based on transforming relationships and exchanges when trust mutual respect is established.
It is an established truth that organizations cannot possibly predict and eliminate all forms of hazards in the workplace. It is also generally accepted that it is an arduous task for organizations to clearly spell out a broad group of behaviours needed to meet organizational goals and targets, more especially in safety prone settings. In line with these assertions, leaders have a role to play in ensuring their safety as well as the safety of other colleagues. This can be achieved by taking proactive steps in the workplace.
Findings from this study confirmed that leadership plays a salient role in the enhancement of safety behaviours at work. Although existing literature posits that both transformational and transactional leadership styles can enhance safety at work, findings from this study suggested that transformational leaders are more effective. In consonance with this finding, management must pay particular attention to the kind and sort of leaders they assign to safety sites. In addition to this, personality tests should be conducted on leaders before they are assigned to safety sites. Finally, leadership training seminars should be held as often as possible to train leaders to be more transformational. Additional findings revealed that employees are bound to exhibit some citizenship behaviours when they are professionally committed.
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