Learn about the LEAD safety culture model

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The rate of complexity and uncertainty in the workplace is increasing exponentially. Organisations must cope with a raft of challenges brought on by societal, political and technological change. For leaders this means an increasing reliance on non-technical skills to inspire commitment, and influence mindsets and behaviours.

Given the dynamic nature of safety, a LEAD safety culture model (LEAD model) was developed to enable frontline leaders to meet these challenges using a systems-based approach.

Developed in collaboration between the Office of Industrial Relations, Curtin University and the University of Queensland, the LEAD model offers organisations an evidenced-based approach to measuring, understanding and improving safety culture.

What is the LEAD safety culture model?

LEAD safety culture model

LEAD is an acronym that summarises the specific skills or competencies that define an effective safety leader:

  • Leverage: giving clarity, recognising achievements, and coordinating work.
  • Energise: inspiring, empowering, and helping workers to grow new skills.
  • Adapt: reflecting on past performance, encouraging speaking up and building resilience.
  • Defend: helping the team to be vigilant, driving accountability, and monitoring work.

Each of the LEAD skills creates a particular mindset or motivation within workers that enables them to achieve peak performance. These mindsets vary across two dimensions:

  1. Promote/Prevent

    Prevent - With a prevention focus, workers are more likely to adopt a careful, cautious, and vigilant approach to their work. They are also more likely to comply with existing processes and procedures.

    Promote - With a promotion focus, workers are more likely to emphasise achievement, proactivity, and personal development.
  1. Flexibility/Stability

    Flexibility - With a flexibility focus, workers are more receptive and open to change in the workplace, which helps them to learn and adopt new initiatives.

    Stability - With a stability focus, workers are more likely to think ahead and plan work, draw on established ways of doing things like procedures, and respond to constructive feedback.

Organisations and safety leaders are best served by using a balance of all strategies and dynamically shifting their emphasis on each strategy in anticipation of, or in response to, environmental changes or behavioural changes in their workforce.

Implementing the LEAD model for improved safety culture

The LEAD safety culture toolkit provides support when implementing the LEAD model in the workplace through four key phases:

  1. Prepare: plan, engage, gain support
  2. Measure: administer the LEAD safety culture survey
  3. Implement: management action plan and training
  4. Embed: monitor and resurvey within 12-24 months

The toolkit provides a suite of resources including:

  • an online survey and dashboard
  • a facilitation guide for trainers on how to implement the LEAD model (currently under development)
  • training content for supervisors, managers and workers (currently under development)

To ensure successful implementation of each of the phases there are key steps that should be undertaken. These include:

Phase 1: Preparing to improve your safety culture

  • Have a clear purpose for running the survey, this will make it easier to influence others and gain support for the project.
  • Collect supporting data to gain or reinforce the support of decision-makers and influence others within your organisation.
  • Once support has been gained, start communicating with your workforce about the project.

Phase 2: Measuring your safety culture

  • Administer the LEAD survey to establish a baseline measure.
  • Monitor completion rates (aim for 60 per cent or higher for more accurate results).
  • Remind staff to complete the survey, reinforcing the project’s objectives.
  • Incentives may be used, however, these should be decided on prior to administering the survey to ensure fairness and transparency.

Phase 3: Implementing an action plan and training to enable change

  • Review the LEAD safety culture survey results with your management team and develop an action plan.
  • Communicate the results back to the working groups that participated in the survey
  • Prepare for training using the facilitator guides and supporting materials (currently under development).
  • Review the training materials and decide if you want to customise the materials by inserting industry-relevant examples. A working group with a mix of representatives can help with this process.

Phase 4: Sustaining safety culture change

  • Integrate changes into existing systems and processes and monitor progress.
  • Use the monitoring metrics to provide regular reports to senior management and workers to maintain momentum and sustain the changes implemented.
  • Conduct a follow up LEAD culture survey after 12 - 24 months to measure the changes to your safety culture against your baseline data. This is usually enough time for the action plan to have been implemented.

NOTE: For best results it is beneficial to follow the phases in sequence, however, the toolkit offers flexibility to use individual components separately to suit organisational needs.

Using the LEAD safety culture survey

The LEAD safety culture survey is hosted by collaboration partner Curtin University.

The survey must be completed online and is suitable for any organisation or business with six or more people, from any industry. The survey will take approximately 10 - 15 minutes to complete.

The person administering the survey on behalf of their organisation will be able to:

  • distribute the survey links to participants’ via email
  • monitor the survey response rate
  • close the survey
  • access the survey dashboard.

Accessing the survey

The person administering the survey will register their details on behalf of the organisation. This user will then be able to access the link to the survey for dissemination to participants and access the survey dashboard. Technical enquiries can be directed to LEADSurvey@oir.qld.gov.au.

Understanding your results

A confidential report will be available once the survey has been completed and closed. Read further information on interpreting the survey results.


Data is stored in the LEAD culture survey application database hosted on secure servers maintained by Curtin University. Access to the database is restricted to the LEAD culture survey collaboration partners (Office of Industrial Relations, Curtin University and the University of Queensland) as well as the database system administrators.

The data provided by participating organisations, through completion of the survey, will assist in building an industry benchmark and increase understanding of safety culture in Queensland workplaces. Any statistics regarding use of the LEAD safety culture survey for the collaboration partners’ corporate knowledge purposes will be compiled at a group level (i.e. number of businesses using the tool by size and industry).

Data will only be used for the purposes described above. Data will not be used or disclosed unless authorised or required by law.

Users taking part in the survey are reminded not to provide any information in this survey that would enable the identity of an individual to be ascertained.

Implementing the training for managers, supervisors and workers

The training materials are currently under development.

  • Facilitator guide
    A guide for facilitators to use when delivering the LEAD face-to-face workshop training for supervisors, managers and workers.
  • Training guide for managers, supervisors and workers
    The training sessions for supervisors, managers and workers is based on the competencies outlined in the LEAD safety culture model, and recognises that for most people, safety leadership is a skill learned over time through experience.

Last updated
10 December 2019