Safety culture can be seen as a subset of organizational culture, with organizational culture serving as the foundation for safety aspects. Without senior leadership establishing acceptable boundaries of behavior, the norms and expectations will not be in place to provide a foundation for an effective safety program. This not only involves providing the financial resources for a safety program to be effective, it also requires a clear understanding of responsibilities in the company as well as it relates to safety.
Safety culture involves the characteristics of an organization and the attributes that contribute to the value placed on safety in that organization. Companies can develop a positive safety culture by accepting responsibility for safety and aligning their actions to enhance and communicate safety concerns. It is the responsibility of management to instruct employees on their expected responsibilities and the means to comply with strategic safety goals.
How does a positive safety culture improve my business?
This isn’t an easy question to answer, but broadly a positive safety culture helps create an environment where your company is proactive at addressing potential threats to your business. Depending on your industry, this can be quantified in many different ways. A place to start could be to review what involvement your organization has in industry safety associations.
A proactive safety program should not be thought of as merely a regulatory compliance obligation. Once properly developed, a positive safety culture is powerful asset to assist management in identifying potentially negative future outcomes and mitigating the risks before they can impact your business. To achieve this, clear quantifiable metrics are needed as well as a program that can gather reliable data to assess performance in meeting established goals. How are you currently gathering this data?
Responsibility for Safety Culture
Senior company leadership is responsible for establishing an organizational culture that can help produce the tools needed to build a positive safety culture. Much could be said about the differences between leadership and management, but in order to successfully acquire and deploy tools. Effective safety reporting is dependent on training your personnel and consistently encouraging them to report errors and experiences. Without this prerequisite, your workplace will never develop a positive safety culture.
Actions that require agreement by senior leadership include:
- Involvement and commitment to safety programs
- Development of strategic safety objects and acceptable levels of risk
- Allocation of require resources, including capital and personnel
- Assignment of accountabilities within the organization
A tool like Anymouse helps gather those small crumbs of data needed to build a bigger picture about how your employees are operating in your company. They know where your next accident is likely to occur, but what tools do they have to report those hazards? What organizational structures exist in your company to respond to reported hazards? How do you track how you’ve responded to hazards in the past? It is very likely the crumbs of data needed to prevent your next incident are currently scattered around in emails, sticky notes, or various other software tools your company uses.
A software program is just a tool, it won’t provide you with a solution, but tools like Anymouse do provide a framework for your company to build an effective safety program. It is important to consider the entire lifespan of a safety program, how new employees are trained to use it and how its effectiveness is assessed.
Without the organizational structure to support training and involvement, maintaining the appropriate level of engagement of senior leadership, there will be a lack of visible support that prevents employees from buying into your safety programs. If you don’t support your safety culture, your employees won’t.