How to Build a World-Class Safety Culture

Safety cultures endure when they are a core part of an organization. It does not live compartmentalized in one area of an organization, it permeates all aspects of the company. Of course workplace safety is important to you as the business owner. Do you know if your employees and management team have safety as a priority?

What is a Safety Culture?

A safety culture is the shared beliefs, practices and mindsets demonstrated by workers at all levels of the company. It goes beyond following safety procedures and rules. Great cultures elicit safety buy-in from employees. Behavioral psychologist and expert in behavior-based safety E. Scott Geller defines a total safety culture as one where “everyone feels responsible for safety and pursues it on a daily basis.”

“ Safety culture not only drives the health and safety of your employees, but it ensures that the organization thrives”

– Ciara Gravier CIC, CRM, CCIC, PWCA, CPIA

4 Core Attributes of a World – Class Safety Culture

Companies with a robust record of safety are more desirable and can attract the best talent in your industry. The ingredients for success when it comes to building a world class safety culture are generally the same if you are a new company or an established one that is revamping their current culture. Let’s go over these ten attributes.

Management Engaged

We all know that cultures of organizations whether positive or careless, begin at the top with the management team. If the management team makes safety a priority and leads by example, employees are more likely to follow suit.

  • Involve all levels of management
  • Remind all employees about safety
  • Support safety supervisors and professionals

Active Safety Committee

Safety trainings and meetings should not become a task that employees or management need to check off their to-do list. Here are some components to forming a productive safety committee:

  • Needs to meet regularly and find ways to offer value-added activities during the meeting to keep employees engaged
  • Should be made up of employees from every area of your company, including management down to line workers
  • Clear purpose and standard procedures for the committees focus is necessary. Such as:
    • creating a clear mission
    • bylaws
    • procedures
    • goals
  • End each meeting with actionable items that are assigned to someone to fulfill those items

Apply Behavior- Based Safety

By adopting a behavior-based safety culture, companies can reduce workplace accidents. Behavior-based safety is a comprehensive look at safety and focuses on the behaviors of employees. It closely looks at accidents caused by unsafe behaviors and develops ways to change those to prevent injuries. If you wanted to implement this in your company, you would designate observers, who are employees trained to conduct on-site safety reviews. These observers watch every employee, making a list of behaviors needed to complete the job and a list of unsafe behaviors they observe. This checklist is then used by supervisors to check that workers under their watch are performing their job correctly and safely.

The process of creating a behavior checklist shouldn’t be a one time deal; set up a schedule to revamp the checklist every few weeks or months. 

Safety Recognition Programs

Instead of rewarding all environment, health, and safety activities, only recognize the incentives and reward those employees that go above and beyond. You want to encourage and support all employees performing the basic safety activities, but it needs to be clear that these behaviors are not optional. The employee safety committee should play a key role in safety recognition program ideas, implementation, and operation.

No matter what the recognition program looks like, employees should never be rewarded for covering up incidents. A safety recognition program should never discourage incident reporting. Just as you evaluate safety training programs, assess your safety recognition programs to improve and keep the programs motivating.

Common Mistakes with Safety Cultures

Creating an effective safety culture is a marathon, not a sprint; it takes patience, dedication and endurance. It’s something that is always evolving, and needs a lot of support from managers and employees across the board. Here are a few mistakes companys make when it comes to trying to implement a safety culture:

  • Not being flexible – doesn’t matter how much you plan, you will run into issues along the way and you have to be flexible. You may run into roadblocks and detours and the ability to adapt on the fly will be integral to your success.
  • Not being transparent- trust is major in an employee – manager relationship. If management isn’t open about what the goals are, then it’s difficult for employees to buy in
  • Not focusing on behaviors- your company’s culture can’t rely entirely on compliance but must also focus on behaviors. Focusing on behaviors allows your company to be proactive rather than reactive. If you focus only on compliance, it ignores the way that worker behavior plays a role in causing and preventing accidents.
  • Not paying attention to systems- paying attention to only behaviors doesn’t work either. You have to have a balance of behavior and systems in order for your safety culture to be successful.
  • Not involving different personalities- your safety committee should be diverse within the organization. These individuals should model safe behavior, connect with all employees and create a climate of teamwork, transparency and respect.

How The Bunker Can Help

If you’ve made it this far, you can tell that building a world-class safety culture is not something easy, but it is worth it. The best to start is to do an audit of your company’s current safety systems, looking for what needs to be fixed and thinking proactively about what could go wrong. Starting there will allow you create a plan that is specific to your company.

At The Bunker, we can help you build your safety culture while managing your insurances. Give us a call at 954-239-7346, so we can help your business move from danger to a safe place!

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