Safety Culture

26 Apr , 2021

Understanding what influences the culture of your organization can make a significant contribution to changing employee attitudes and behaviours in relation to workplace health and safety. For a safety culture to be successful it needs to be led from the top—that is, safety culture needs to be embraced and practised by senior management.

What is a safety culture?

A safety culture is a company’s culture that places a high level of importance on safety beliefs, values, and attitudes—and these are shared by most people within the company or workplace. It can be characterized as ‘the way we do things around here’. A positive safety culture can result in improved workplace health and safety and organizational performance.

Companies that want to have a positive safety culture, which everyone owns, should develop, and promote managers with the right knowledge, skills, and attitudes to successfully undertake the responsibilities of the safety.

The culture actions can easily be implemented by any company regardless of its size, and most of them can be introduced with little or no direct financial cost to the company.

Communicate company values.

A companies safety values vary from company to company. You can have a zero incident programs or defined as a general preventive statement.  The real message for any safety values approach is safety first. Safety should become a part of your everyday values and action, and not be an ‘extra task’. Management can communicate the company values with safety posters, toolbox talks, site visits by management, regular reinforcement by all forms of management.

The company safety values are usually found in the health and safety policy developed for the company.  If you don’t have a Health & safety policy available at https://stallionsafetyconsulting.ca/collections/policies-1/products/health-safety-policy?_pos=1&_sid=6502b6722&_ss=r

Demonstrate leadership.

Leaders in the company need to act to motivate and inspire others to work towards achieving a particular goal or outcome by sending clear and consistent messages about the importance of work health and safety.

For more on safety leadership please see the previous blog post we created about leadership at https://stallionsafetyconsulting.ca/blogs/news/safety-leadership

Clarify required and expected behaviours.

Clarify to employees the specific behaviours required and expected of them.   These clarifications can be done through toolbox meetings, safety meetings.  It can be reinforcing great work ethics through praise and acknowledgement.  This include addressing inappropriate behaviours & actions.   The disciplinary policy is a great an example of the reinforcement of the company expectations.  You can view the customizable progressive Discipline Policy here: https://stallionsafetyconsulting.ca/collections/policies-1/products/progressive-discipline-policy?_pos=2&_sid=88e899f46&_ss=r

Personalize safety outcomes.

Make work health and safety more obvious, relevant, and emotional for the individual to personalize their role in preventing and eliminating risks and hazards.  Allow employees to share work experiences and learnings.  Start discussions about incidents that have happened within the company and impact these incidents have had on the individual involved.  

We have developed safety alerts that are based on real life incidents.  Learn from other’s experiences. https://stallionsafetyconsulting.ca/collections/safety-alerts

Develop positive safety attitudes.

Companies that encourage managers, employees, and subcontractors to challenge unsafe behaviours and attitudes, yet also recognise and encourage those who have shown a positive attitude towards safety.  The perfect example of this is Behavioral Based Observation (BBO) programs.  BBO programs encourages the interventions to prevent at-risk behaviours noticed on the worksite.  This allows employees to discuss and educate other workers on proper process and procedures.  The BBO program also encourages the recognition of employees following the company’s process and procedures.  

You can view the Hazard Identification & Behaviors Based Observation program at https://stallionsafetyconsulting.ca/search?type=product&q=observation

Engage and own safety responsibilities and accountabilities.

Ownership is one of the indispensable cornerstones of a successful safety culture. To encourage or develop ownership, senior managers can foster and maintain the following:

  • Engaging employees: involve the employees in safety discussion & investigations, the development/revisions of safety procedures, sharing information.
  • Demonstrating support: trust employee’s judgements on safety, encourage speaking openly on safety issues.
  • Provide the required training for the tasks they are assigned. The employee will gain knowledge and feel empowered to make safer choices.

Wording is especially important when talking to employees.  Use words like “we”, “OUR company”, this allows the employees to feel included and not separate from management or the company.

We have developed a Safety Responsibilities Policy that includes, senior management, field management, supervisors, employees, health & safety representatives, subcontractors and visitors. https://stallionsafetyconsulting.ca/products/safety-responsibility-policy?_pos=3&_sid=d503e4353&_ss=r

 Improve understanding and effective implementation of safety management systems.

Enable individuals to increase their knowledge of specific ways in which hazards are managed, as well as their ability to apply and implement the actual Health & safety processes.  The more knowledge your employees have about the processes within the health & safety program, the wiser choices your employees can make for their safety and for others.  Inform the employees of the investigation process, inspection processes, continuous improvement processes and allow them to openly give feedback and suggestions on how to improve the health & safety program.

 

Your workplace's health and safety culture, proactive management of health and safety, and health and safety performance are interlinked. Building a strong health and safety culture will have a positive impact on your workers, your bottom line, and public perception.

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