The present research investigates antecedents of safety performance in warehouses. Specifically, we study what factors influence the number of accidents that have occurred in the past three and a half years in 78 Dutch warehouses. Based on prior research in (behavioral) operations management, safety management, and organizational behavior, we identify hazard reducing systems (HRS), safety-specific transformational leadership (SSTL), and safety consciousness (SC) as potential predictors of safety performance. Path analysis on data from a survey among 78 warehouse managers and 1033 warehouse employees shows, in line with prior research, that HRS is a strong predictor of safety performance. Importantly, our results also suggest that SSTL may be an even more important predictor of safety performance than HRS. SSTL affects safety performance directly (contrary to our expectations SC does not mediate this relationship) and strongly predicts safety performance even after controlling for the effects of HRS. SSTL also mediates some of the effects of HRS on safety performance. Subsequently, we propose that leaders are critical in fostering safety on the work floor.

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Keywords Behavioral operations, Safety consciousness, Safety systems, Transformational leadership, Warehouse accidents
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Series ERIM Top-Core Articles
Journal Journal of Operations Management
de Koster, M.B.M, Stam, D.A, & Balk, B.M. (2011). Accidents happen: The influence of safety-specific transformational leadership, safety consciousness, and hazard reducing systems on warehouse accidents. Journal of Operations Management, 29(7-8), 753–765. doi:10.1016/j.jom.2011.06.005