Corporate culture can be described simply as: “the way we do things here.” Safety needs to be an integral piece of the corporate culture and embedded into the overall “way we do things” approach in an organization. When safety is not intrinsic, your organization may be more vulnerable to incidents and injuries in the workplace..
Many companies talk about “safety culture” when referring to their employees’ attitude towards health and safety. However, it’s your attitude as a leader that drives culture and sets the tone at work. If you emphasize productivity over safety, or tend to be reactive and focus on the short term, your team will see that as the culture and follow suit.
Success comes from good leadership and good communication. That means leading by example, reinforcing positive behavior, and avoiding blame when something does go wrong.
What You Can Do
The best health and safety programs work in every area and level of your business. Inspiring a safety culture will help to reduce accidents for workers and improve your bottom line.
Here are some ways that you can inspire a positive safety culture:
- Regularly visit the places you conduct business. This could be on site with your workers, on the shop floor, in a warehouse, or in your workers’ offices. Being familiar with your employees’ work locations will help you be more aware of potential hazards.
- Provide clear information. Ensure all policies and signage are up-to-date so employees have access to clear and relevant information.
- Training. Make sure that all workers have relevant and up-to-date training on any equipment they use. Provide additional training if workers ask for it, or if new processes or job tasks are introduced.
- Encourage accountability. After training a new employee, remind them that they are also accountable for their own actions. This should include reporting incidents and unsafe conditions as well as working safely.
- Investigate all near misses, as well as accidents. Just because an accident was averted one time doesn’t mean it won’t happen the next time. Investigating a near miss might prevent a serious accident down the road.
- Encourage questions and feedback. Encourage employees to ask questions if they don’t understand how to do something safely, or if they have any concerns about their own or others’ safety. And remember: all workers have the right to refuse unsafe work.
- Be open and honest about safety issues. Don’t assign blame. If an incident occurs, explain what has happened and why, how the issue will be resolved, and how it can be avoided in the future.
- Embrace the goal of zero injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. Let your employees know that even one injury is too many. If culture can influence performance, then adopt a culture that avoids incidents and benefits from efficiency and profit.
Lead by Example
Join WorkSafeBC and Small Business BC on October 8, 2014 to find out how you can encourage a better “safety culture”. You will have the opportunity to ask questions of your industry peers and find out how their commitment to health and safety has transformed their businesses.