Saf Health Work.  2019 Jun;10(2):172-179. 10.1016/

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

  • 1Institute for Work & Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
  • 2CIHR Institute of Population & Public Health, Global Strategy Lab, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
  • 3Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
  • 4Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.


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.
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.
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.
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.


Occupational health and safety; Vulnerability; Work injury; Supervisor
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