- WHAT WE DO
- WHO WE ARE
- CLIENT TOOLS
Developing a strong safety culture has the single greatest impact on accident reduction of any workplace practice, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). And that sounds good—Strong Safety Culture—three high impact words in a phrase that makes you want to nod in agreement, but what is it exactly? And what does it take to develop it in your workplace?
A company culture consists of workers’ and leaders’ shared beliefs, practices and mindsets that form an atmosphere of attitudes that shape behavior in a workplace. Culture will develop organically even if you aren’t paying attention to it—which means if you aren’t mindful, it’s possible to end up with negative attitudes in the driver’s seat of your organization’s culture.
A company’s safety culture is a direct reflection of the organization’s overarching culture. As a result, most employees will generate their perceptions of safety (and its relative importance) based on the attitude and actions of their employer.
To have a strong safety culture, it’s important to have an overall workplace culture that fosters positive relationships and outcomes (e.g., respect, integrity, ethics, a shared sense of duty, etc.). To be truly effective, your safety program needs to be layered on these existing cultural principles.
For example, in a company with a low-trust culture, a workplace safety program (regardless of management’s intentions) is often viewed as strict, forced and punitive. Health and safety officers at these organizations are seen as police-like figures who enforce codes and rules, and it seems like their sole duties are to catch workers doing unsafe things so they can punish them.
In these negative cultures, the employees’ fear of being punished and distrust of safety officers makes them leery of proactively identifying potential hazards or reporting near-miss incidents. In worst case scenarios, it can lead to workers hiding incidents and seemingly minor injuries (a nightmare waiting to happen with OSHA and workers’ compensation).
In a successful safety culture, on the other hand, everyone feels equally responsible for safety and pursues it on a daily basis by identifying unsafe conditions and behaviors and intervening to correct them. Coworkers look out for one another and point out unsafe behaviors to each other, and morale is higher because safety officers are not seen as policing employee actions. As a result, the company typically experiences fewer at-risk behaviors, lower accident rates and higher productivity.
With a positive overall workplace culture in place, there are a number of ways you can enhance your safety culture by boosting employee engagement in your safety program. Here are a few tips to take your organization to the next level.
Make sure your team has the latest tools and technology to build a strong safety culture. Check out our latest whitepaper Modern Workplace: Using Technology to Ensure OSHA Compliance and Manage Safety Programs to learn more.