What is a Culture of Safety?
How do you know if you have one and how can you enhance this culture once it has been established?
It is actually much easier to identify an organization that does not exhibit a culture of safety. These are organizations that have recurring injuries and down time along with increasing insurance rates and possible litigation issues. At these facilities, workers don’t feel safe or comfortable with the PPE provided to them and don’t bother to alert someone if gloves, glasses or earplugs fit properly. Management and workers sometimes ignore safety procedures and safety is not looked at as a top priority, nor is it discussed or properly invested in. Workers are not empowered to make a difference and in these cases, the culture of safety is broken or non-existent.
In a culture of safety, workers are empowered to take action. They are responsible for safety and the safety of their coworkers and their leaders understand the value of safety. Management is committed to changing the environment for the better and continually and invest in the protective equipment, services and technology necessary to keep their workers and workplaces safe.
OSHA has reported that developing a strong culture of safety has a significant impact on reducing incidents and the development of these cultures should be a top priority for managers and supervisors.
How will a culture of safety impact your organization and what are the steps necessary to establish one?
1) Investment from Leadership
Building an effective culture of safety starts at the top. Leadership must look at safety as something more than a line item and must invest in the proper resources including quality PPE, expert training and technology to help predict and prevent injuries. This approach ensures safety is highlighted as a key component of day-to-day operations within an organization.
2) Establish Safety Procedures and Policies
Safety procedures should be established and posted throughout your facility. Make sure all policies and procedures are clearly outlined and understood. Provide clear written instructions and check with employees before they begin using equipment or performing tasks for the first time. Ensure workers know what they are being asked to do and if necessary, provide instructions in additional languages when necessary.
3) Empower Employees to be Responsible and Accountable for Safety
In organizations that have truly excelled in creating a culture of safety there is an overwhelming feeling that safety is very important. Every worker feels responsible for not only being safe but making sure those around them are safe. Empower your workers to “own” safety by involving them in the safety planning process. Encourage and champion “safety leaders” in your organization who will be responsible for safety initiatives in addition to their regular responsibilities. The more employees understand and take ownership of your organizations safety initiatives the more he/she will take action.
4) Make Training a Regular Part of Your Safety Program
Proper safety training is an essential component of any safety program. Share best practices at weekly safety meetings and provide safety resources to your employees. Invest in EH&S training which can positively impact your bottom line by reducing insurance premiums, lowering workers’ compensation rates and ensuring compliance with regulations. Investing in training also shows that you care about your employees and are invested in their safety.
5) Put Systems and Technology in Place to Correct or Prevent Safety Issues
It is not enough to just provide high quality PPE and training. You must also ensure you are aware of potential hazards in your facility. A workplace safety site audit can help to identify potential deficiencies or out-of-date equipment. Additionally, it can help to review written programs, training records and logs for any regulatory or safety gaps that may put workers at risk. Investing in innovative new technology that helps you take a proactive approach to preventing workplace injuries is another step you can take.
6) Commit to Continuous Improvement
Once the steps above have been taken it is important to continually progress and make improvements. A series of continuous process improvement steps should be established and measured in your facility. This will help ensure that your organization is effectively committed to building a culture of safety and can report on the results.
When companies develop a culture of safety they tend to have lower incident rates, lower turn-over, lower absenteeism and higher productivity. Management understands the value of safety and helps employees work at the highest levels by helping them feel safe and supported.
“Building a Culture of Safety: 6 Steps to Take Today”
Posted by Julie Copeland
At Laksafety Products, we are passionate about safety and it is something that defines our mission. It is part of our DNA. We continually measure safety performance, share results and celebrate safety throughout our organization. This behavior has resulted in a progression to help our customers improve their own processes to ensure every employee goes home safely after every shift.
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