Signs of a Workplace Safety Culture

From www.ergonomie.com.auEmployers miss potential dividends from workplace safety initiatives when they don’t instill safety as part of their corporate culture.

A safety culture describes the way the C-Suite, supervisors and employers think, feel and act towards occupational safety.

Reflecting the “unspoken rules” about values, priorities and how the work is done, a corporate culture can support safety and instill employee trust. Lacking a safety culture can the invisible barrier that hinders positive change.

Like any culture, it is reflected in language, action, signs and symbols. Here are some signs your organization has a safety culture:

1)   It’s important to the CEO and everyone knows it. The CEO talks about safety and it is reiterated through human resources, communications and management. Employee orientation sessions include safety training and job evaluations and promotions reflect an attitude of safety by managers and employees. (For more about the importance of CEOs, please click here. For ideas for winning over the CEO, please click here.)

2)   It’s in the talk. People are aware of safety and they talk about it. Communications, from break room signs to employee newsletters reiterate the message that safety is valued as much as productivity and profitability.

Lacking a safety culture can the invisible barrier that hinders positive change.

3)   It’s in the walk. From training to accident investigation, managers make sure safety provisions are in every step of the process.

4)   It’s rewarded. Safety is its own reward from simply doing the right thing and preventing employees from getting hurt. From appropriate incentive programs that encourage reporting potential hazards to job evaluations, employees know safety has tangible perks. Verbal compliments also boost employee morale. (For more on a culture of sharing and reporting, please click here.)

5)   It’s in the training. Employees are well schooled. They are taught to know when their environment is unsafe and discouraged from cutting corners. They are not afraid to file reports for accidents and near misses to strengthen incident prevention. Instead, they are empowered and encouraged to do so.

6)   It’s in the housekeeping. Safe housekeeping – where floors are clean and equipment is well maintained – shows workplace safety as a priority. Everything has its place and employees know where to find what they need.

7)   It’s what employees believe. In a safety culture, employees believe safety is a priority. Employee surveys can help you find out how employees feel. I will cover how to develop an employee survey about safety culture in my next blog.

In the meantime, how can you tell an organization has a safety culture? Please let me know in the comments section below.

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5 thoughts on “Signs of a Workplace Safety Culture

  1. Munro Safety Apparel says:

    You are right on the money in that the CEO needs to be involved with a workplace safety program. Safety starts from the top down and requires buy-in from the entire organization. Even if upper management isn’t out on the floor or in the field, they need to have an idea of the safety program to make sure the organization as a whole is on the same page.

  2. Lyndsay with KevBurns says:

    When management shows up and is part of safety training events, you’re building a safety culture. Your employees won’t build a safety culture without you – they’ll (and you’ll) more than likely undermine the small safety efforts you’re making because the message from the top is that this isn’t important. A safety culture takes everyone.

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