There’s a lot to consider when trying to develop a positive safety culture in your company. This article provides a comprehensive outline of all the steps required to build and sustain a positive safety culture within your company.
Every company from large to small needs employees to understand what is required to keep the workplace safe. Rules, organizational structure, and a company-wide recognition that safety is essential are key elements of a workplace safety culture.
To create a strong culture of workplace safety, there are actions leaders and management among your company can take.
Communicate Company Values
Let your employees know what the company expects of them in regards to safety. Companies reward and support certain safety-related behavior, so it’s good to make sure your employees are on the same page.
Make sure you actively demonstrate the behaviors you want your employees to model. Effective display of leadership will inspire employees to model their own actions after their leaders, and build positive relations among workers regarding safety.
Clarify Expected Behaviors
Let immediate employees know what behaviors you expect from them, and consistently portray this message. This can be done through both repeated communication and positive reinforcement.
Make it Personal
Teach your employees how these safety guidelines affect them as individuals. Random statistics are easy to disregard, but when you tell a story about a former employee who was severely injured due to not following proper safety protocol, it sends the message home.
Recognize and Reward
It’s easy for employees to tire of following safety protocols, especially if they require extra effort on a consistent basis. Combat this by encouraging employees to recognize unsafe behaviors or places in the workplace and call out them out, including rule breakers. Encourage and reward those who actively work to maintain safety standards.
Empower Individuals with Feedback
Staff should hold meetings at regular intervals throughout the year and actively engage employees when it comes to safety rules. Let your employees give feedback and input on safety rules, and discuss new ways people might be tempted to bend them. Reiterate the impact that each individual has on the larger agenda at hand. Let them come up with their own safety goals that they can meet, which fall right in line with the protocol of the company.
Building Risk Awareness
The most effective way to get employees to follow a rule is to let them know what will happen if they don’t. When employees fully understand the potential negative consequences of not following safety rules they will be far less likely to break them. In fact, they will become enthusiastic about enforcing the safety rules. Let it be known that there are identified and unidentified safety hazards looming in the workplace, and collaboration should take place to inspect and snuff out new safety hazards wherever they are found.
Another key to developing a strong safety culture includes identifying what your safety management tasks are and what the critical safety positions are within your company. There are 39 identified safety management tasks that apply to OH&S performance across the board, and they fall into seven categories:
- Identifying the right controls for OH&S risks and hazards, and proactively assessing them.
- Communicating with stakeholders effectively about OH&S risks.
- Evaluating, reporting, monitoring, and reviewing the effectiveness of the safety program.
- Engaging with the subcontractors in OH&S performance management.
- Identifying the proper elements of the worker’s compensation management system and the OH&S, and effectively implementing them.
- Fully understanding the principles of case management and workers compensation so as to apply them effectively.
- Managing and leading sub-contractors and staff in accordance with OH&S performance expectations.
In addition to this, you also need a comprehensive chain of command when it comes to safety critical positions. While this list is not applicable to everybody, it gives a good outline of the kind of safety positions you should have in your company.
- The Foreman
- Senior Manager
- Construction Manager
- Site Manager
- Managing Director
- Project Manager
- National, State, Regional and Site OH&S Managers
While these aren’t the only positions that are important when it comes to a safety chain of command, they are the basic ones you should have in place. Also, lower level players need to be able to step up and fill bigger shoes if the situation requires.
The next key to developing a positive safety culture is to define safety competency requirements with the task and position competency matrix. This matrix will give a breakdown of the knowledge required for each individual position by using a point system.
While it is a good minimum standard, the competency matrix can and should be adjusted to fit the different individual needs of each company. Companies should regularly look for ways to improve upon their matrix and place emphasis on the importance of the individual employee.
Once you have this framework, there are a few steps to take to make sure it is properly integrated into your company. The four steps to take to accomplish this are as follows:
- Selection and Recruitment of Competent Employees
- The employees who show the best leadership skills are the ones you want for important safety positions.
- Development and Training of these Employees
- Initiate your new recruits into their leadership positions with the proper training.
- Management of Performance
- Promote the behaviors you desire with positive incentives.
- Company Specific Adaptation
- Once you have the basic ground rules in place, you can begin tweaking them to suit your individual needs.
The last step in developing a positive safety culture is clarifying your safety competency specifications and what culture outcomes you are trying to achieve. To do this, you will need to:
- Gather the required project information for assessing risk.
- Build a risk assessment team.
- Conduct risk assessment on projects.
- Identify the risk controls.
- Review and communicate project risk assessment.
- Review the progress of control implementation.
The successful completion of this checklist will allow you to adapt your competency matrix to specifically suit your needs as a company and allow for the effective development of a positive safety culture.
Developing a positive safety culture is critical to the long-term success of any company. While anybody can just lay down some safety rules and tell people to follow them, the practical development of a positive safety culture is a little more nuanced than that. Follow these guidelines within your own company, and you will be well on your way to having a positive safety culture in no time.