Empowerment, span of control, and safety performance in work teams after workforce reduction

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Relationships of empowerment and span of control with 2 safety measures (unsafe behaviors and accidents) were investigated among 24 workgroups comprising 531 employees of a large chemical company in 3 U.S. states. The company recently implemented a reengineering process. Data were from an anonymous survey (unsafe behaviors), company records (accidents, span of control), and trained expert raters (empowerment). Span of control (positively) and level of empowerment (negatively) correlated with both measures of poor safety performance, but only empowerment predicted unique variance in safety criteria. Together, these structural measures predicted one third of the variance in safety measures. Structural variables such as span of control and team empowerment have been largely overlooked in past safety research but can be important. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)