What is safety culture?
The simplest definition that is used when discussing Safety Culture is: “the way we do things around here”. Safety Culture is a measure of a person’s views, perceptions, attitudes, and beliefs of how well an organisation is performing at any given time.
In other words, it is generally considered to be a ‘snapshot’ of the feelings and attitudes of people.
In the first instance, a general walk around of the workplace will enable one to quickly get a sense of ‘feel’ for the workplace conditions, behaviours, and attitudes.
A review of organisational policies, standards, procedures, and systems of work will then enable one to establish, through observation of the working practices, whether the standards are being complied with.
Below definitions have been used to understand Safety Culture:
- “A system of shared attitude, values, and beliefs about the importance of health, safety, and environment in the workplace.”
- “An attitude to safety which pervades the whole organisation from top to bottom and has become a norm of behaviour for every member of staff from the top management to the field level worker. “
- “The safety culture of an organisation is the product of individual and group values, attitudes, perceptions, competencies, and patterns of behaviour that determine the commitment to, and the style and proficiency of, an organisation’s health, safety, and environment management”.
Benefits of Positive Safety Culture
The benefits of positive safety culture for the organisations and workers are as below:
- Reduced accident and incident rates
- Reduced sickness absence
- Increased productivity and efficiencies
- Improved morale and employee satisfaction (low staff turnover)
- Improved public relations and corporate image
- Reduced insurance premiums
- Reduced risk of enforcement action
- High level of health and safety compliance.
- Improved physical and mental well-being
- Decreased sickness/sick leave and disability
- Reduced risk factors for future ill-health
- Higher morale and job satisfaction
- Increased confidence in the company
- Safer working conditions
- Reviewing working practices to ensure compliance with standards
Creating safety culture
Below are the 5 Key Elements of Safety Culture, which can contribute to creating a positive safety culture in the organisation:
Risk Awareness. Raising risk awareness is the process of making employees aware of the hazards, risks, and its consequences so that it can be controlled and by reporting to their supervisors thereby preventing incidents with the help of proper risk assessments.
Many Risk-awareness programs have been designed by various organisations to improve the safety culture.
Workers who are risk-aware will be well versed with the limitations of safety rules and will focus more on identification of hazards and risks rather than just following the rules. Apart from this, workers who are risk aware will report more safety issues and perform interventions to control the hazards and provide more suggestions for improving safety culture of the organisations.
Fair and Just culture. Fair and Just Culture is a way of safety thinking preferences that promote a questioning attitude among individuals and the one which is resistant to complacency and committed to excellence that promotes both accountability and controlling the risks.
People often become complacent to their work environment related to unsafe acts and conditions, which is dangerous. Hence it is vital to encourage workers to have a questioning attitude to element or reduce the risks of unsafe acts and conditions to prevent incidents.
Inclusiveness. Inclusiveness is the characteristics of the workplace where people with all kinds of differences and disabilities feel welcome and valued for their contributions. It creates a place or space with disabilities, both visible and invisible disabilities have the same opportunities for advancement as their co-workers.
Below characteristics of inclusiveness can establish a positive safety culture.
- Value what each worker brings
- Show suggestions for value what each worker brings
- Establish a respectful safety climate
- Show suggestions for a respectful safety climate
- Plan for everyone to participate
Management Commitment. Top management commitment is extremely essential for making any health and safety program successful.
Most importantly, like all forms of leadership, becoming a good safety leader starts with honest and consistent communication with employees. Management should set high but attainable standards for their team and should motivate workers for following their safety management system.
Accountability. Accountability means when an individual or department experiences consequences for their performance or actions. Accountability is a very important aspect for Supervisors and Managers as this can ensure the ownership of their actions. Managers must be held accountable for their actions and should encourage their employees to lead by example in their job. Managers and supervisors should realise that their behaviour influences everyone around them in their workplace. Therefore, the top management needs to hold these individuals accountable for safety, and not look only to achieve the production goals.
WHS and Training Compliance Solutions, we offer WHS for Managers and Supervisors training. It is provided online and onsite course health and safety. Our health and safety course can help your organisation to a great extent by decreasing incidents/injuries/near misses, increasing the productivity, boosting the morale of the employees. Assist your workplace to provide safe working environment. Contact us for more information, or book yourself to one our health and safety course.