The values of a company ultimately underwrite their safety culture. Find the values in your organization to find your safety culture.
If a company has values that are first and foremost about trust, compassion, commitment and open honesty, it is likely their safety culture will follow suit.
What constitutes a good safety culture?
- A people-centric approach around processes rather than regulation and compliance
- Employee engagement
- Trust from both sides of the workforce. Leaders must initiate the possibility of this by means of:
- Encouragement to communicate
- Positive mentorship
- Consistency with responses
- Pride in the work conducted
According to a recent study published June 2020 in the Journal of Workplace Health and Safety ‘A Strategy for Enterprise Risk Management’, workplace safety is a shared responsibility between frontline staff managers and leadership with an organization. A speak-up culture is encouraged to support safe work practices and prevent injuries occurring (1).
Employees are smarter than the ones driving the train when it comes to workplace safety. Consider your staff to be your most trusted informants. Furnishing a people-centric approach and a level of comfort to speak, they will easily identify any potential concerns, protective equipment required, or protection needed, and your job will be done for you.
Compliance driven companies are loaded with forms, checklists and documented safety information, this is critical and required for audits and any safety challenges that may arise. Firstly, however, maintaining a people centric culture around safety is what will bring results. Focus first is on the employee, their attributes and values. Think about the work environment and the needs of the workers and once these things have been established and the trust has been built, safety compliance will come easy.
We all have an inherent desire to keep our bodies from harm and injury. Have faith in this by letting go of control and allowing workers to provide you with all the safety information and hazard identification. Create this orientation and employees will feel empowered, providing them with purpose and a sense that their role is important and requires their attention for not only their own safety but that of others as well.
Reinforce and recognize the positive of good safety conduct from individuals.
If you want workers to do something, make it easy and accessible.
Prepare and elicit simple ways to make communication to management about safety, streamline, heard and efficiently actioned. A policy reporting method and system that once something is reported, there are safe measures and disciplines in place that determine the actions to have it dealt with. Making sure that all problems communicated are considered with care, compassion and importance so as not to make anyone feel uncomfortable for speaking up.
It requires an open and willingness to change in order to alter an existing poor safety culture, so the first thing is to obtain trust from workers. If an environment typically has had a less than desirable safety attitude, it is up to the senior leaders to begin to model safe behavior, initiate promotions and most importantly walk with an open arm attitude encouraging employees to speak-up and be part of making a difference. This may be a slow burn and take time to see results but deploying with consistency and authenticity will increase results.
Listen. Be open to accepting that a worker may have seen something that you have overlooked. Be a team player and ask questions about any concerns your workers may have around the safety of their tasks.
Ultimately the culture built is established by leadership and the approach they bestow upon their workers of which the foundation is from company values. The simple qualities, thoughtfulness, rapport, support, trust and open communication are all that is needed to help build on or shift any attitudes and change behaviors around safety. Invest in this, lead by example, and you will end with a well-rounded team that cares for each other and thus does the safety hard work for you.
- Jule, J. (2020). Workplace Safety: A Strategy for Enterprise Risk Management. Workplace Health & Safety, 68(8), 360–365. https://doi.org/10.1177/2165079920916654