4 Keys to improving health and safety culture

Safety culture according to Wikipedia is the attitude, beliefs, perceptions and values that employees share in relation to health and safety in the workplace.

It can also be said to be the product of individual and group values, attitudes, perception, competencies and patterns of behavior that determine the commitment to, and the style and proficiency of an organization’s health and safety management.

Studies have found that workplace related disasters are a result of a breakdown in an organization’s policies and procedures that were established to deal with safety, and that the breakdown flows from inadequate attention being paid to safety issues.

“Organisations with a positive safety culture are characterized by communications founded on mutual trust, by shared perceptions of the importance of safety and by confidence in the efficacy of preventive measures.”

Indicators of poor safety culture

  • High sickness, ill-health and absentee rate among the workforce.
  • Adoption of blame culture.
  • Lack of compliance with relevant health and safety laws and safety rules and procedures of the organization.
  • Weak health and safety management structure.
  • Widespread, routine procedural violations.
  • Management decisions that appear consistently to put production or cost before safety, etc.

Indicators of a good safety culture

  • Visible leadership commitment at all level.
  • Clear and defined goal that the organization wishes to achieve.
  • There is all-inclusive involvement in health and safety.
  • Regular detailed audit of the organizational health and safety management system.
  • There is no conflicting interest between production goal with health and safety
  • Safety issues are addressed promptly, etc.

Factors that affect health and safety culture

  • Human factors: Experience, perception, skills, attitude, etc
  • Organisational factors: Leadership, commitment, staff welfare, work design and schedule, etc.
  • External factors: Societal expectation, market, legislation, etc.

How to improve safety culture 

Improving safety culture is necessary if compliance is to be achieved.

Safety culture can be achieved by taking these simple steps:

  • Show committed in achieving said objectives: Management commitment is very essential in achieving a good safety culture. When management staff live by example, they are leading the way for the achievement to a good safety culture.
  • Employee involvement: Consulting with employees before taking decision with regards to health and safety will give them the sense of importance in the scheme of things. They will tend to believe that health and safety is theirs; they own it.
  • Communicate your goal: Communicate what you want to achieve. Make is clear for good understanding.
  • Ensure competence: An employee might not do what you expect from them if they do not have the skill to do so. There, you will give them the necessary training required to deliver on their differnt task.

For more understanding of health and safety culture, Watch SHP Safety Talks with Tim Marsh

 

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