Statistics show that a significant number of incidents are caused by poor behaviors, which, if eliminated, would significantly improve the safety of the workplace. This is why having a positive safety culture plays such a key role to the success of your business.
When implementing a change in culture, it needs to be proactively driven from senior management and should not only include ensuring that equipment, systems and procedures are safe, but also encouraging behaviors that promote a safe working environment.
Changing the culture of any organization is difficult and time-consuming, and more often than not you are faced with a workplace that is less than amenable to change. What’s crucial when it comes to changing a company’s safety culture is to remember that it cannot happen overnight and should be introduced slowly to avoid resistance from employees. Getting your employees to understand that having a positive safety culture has the power to impact so many lives may be hard, but if you start with creating behavioral safety approaches you will see those less disengaged become engaged.
A good place to start is creating a common definition of a safety culture: a set of core values and behaviors that emphasize safety as an overriding priority. While values are the foundation, safety culture is ultimately expressed through what is said and done – through behavior. Once your employees start acting safely due to rules and regulations being in place, this behavior becomes the norm for everyone resulting in a positive change in culture.
However much of a hill you may have to climb to engage your employees, it is worth the hard work and effort as having a positive safety culture established in your company will result in the following positive elements:
- Effective control of hazards due to working practices and rules
- Positive attitudes to risk and compliance management
- A culture of learning from incidents and near miss reports in order to continually reduce the risk of accidents
Learning from past mistakes is the best way to improve safety, and therefore a blame-free environment where employees feel they can report safety breaches is critical to ensure continuous improvement. To create a positive safety culture, you need to encourage all employees to monitor their workplace for hazards and report any near misses so that you can use this information to predict and prevent future incidents.
In order to figure out if your company is in need of a more positive safety culture I have compiled a checklist that should offer you some guidance:
Checklist: Ensuring a Positive Safety Culture
- Does your senior management actively promote a positive safety culture?
- Does your company employ ‘behavioral safety’ approaches to promote good habits, which will lead to a positive safety culture over time?
- Do you have a communication policy that regularly educates the workforce about key aspects of health and safety?
- Is your workforce willing and able to report incidents and near misses without fear of recriminations?
- Are key health and safety metrics measured and publically displayed so that all employees are aware of them?
If you’d like to learn more about how to strategically create a safety culture, be sure to read our S.A.F.E.R. Framework eBook.