The Interplay Between Supervisor Safety Support and Occupational Health and Safety Vulnerability on Work Injury

Basak Yanar, Morgan Lay, Peter M. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Workers exposed to hazards without adequate protections are at greater risk of injury and illness. Supervisor activities have also been associated with injury risk. We examined the interplay between supervisor safety support and occupational health and safety (OHS) vulnerability on workplace injury and illness. Methods: A survey was administered to 2,390 workers employed for more than 15 hrs/week in workplaces with at least five employees who had a direct supervisor. We examined the combined effects of hazard exposure with inadequate protection (OHS vulnerability) and supervisor support on workplace injury and illness, using additive interactions in log-binomial regression models. Results: OHS vulnerability and lack of supervisor support independently increased the likelihood of physical injuries at work. Crude and adjusted models showed that the risk of physical injury was at least 3.5 times higher among those experiencing both OHS vulnerability and a lack of supervisor support than individuals without OHS vulnerability and with a supportive direct supervisor. Workers who experienced vulnerability were at less risk if they had a supervisor who was supportive. Conclusion: In workplaces where workers experience one or more types of OHS vulnerability, having a supportive supervisor may play an important role in reducing the risk of injury and protecting workers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)172-179
Number of pages8
JournalSafety and Health at Work
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019


  • Occupational health and safety
  • Supervisor
  • Vulnerability
  • Work injury

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