Safety Culture Avoiding the Pitfalls

Many organizations talk about ‘safety culture’ when referring to their employees’ tendency to comply with rules or act safely or unsafely. However, we find that management’s culture and style are even more significant, for example, a natural, unconscious bias for production over safety or a tendency to focus on the short-term and highly reactive. Moreover, many organizations have spent a lot of time and efforts on developing a strong safety culture in the workplace but still can’t see any results. There are a few pitfalls signs that external factors cause your efforts’ failure. 

 1. They don’t walk the talk. It’s not uncommon to see leaders who feel they are above the rules—what applies to everyone else does not apply to them. Think about it. What kind of message does it send when managers, supervisors attend safety meetings or training but sit at the back of the room doing paperwork or checking their email the entire time? It’s more than just having leadership be present for safety training/meetings; they need to be fully engaged in it.

2. They send mixed messages. Almost every organisation will express their commitment to safety, but what happens internally causes confusion. For example, a rushed order deadline may result in a safety violation getting ignored or a pre-inspection missed. However, as long as no one gets hurt, let’s forget about it.

3. They don’t provide resources for success. Strong safety culture is the by-product of giving employees the resources they need to succeed. One of the most common excuses for not following through on a needed safety issue is an insufficient budget; there is not enough time to stop production and squeeze in safety training. This sends a clear message that leadership is not interested in investing in employee safety.

4. They don’t provide the time. New safety initiatives should be given ample time to prove their effectiveness. There should always be a sustainability plan in place for every new safety initiative to ensure its continuous application and progress (and ultimately show that the company believes in it). If the leadership switches safety programs too frequently, they’ll start to feel like a flavour of the month and the credibility of the initiative is lost.

5. They won’t grow or change. “It’s the way that we’ve always done it and it’s worked for us in the past. Why Change?? Just because nothing bad ever happened in the past, things might not necessarily have been done the right way and it certainly doesn’t mean that nothing wrong will happen in the future—or today.

Remember, in safety; a chain is only as long as its weakest link. If you want your efforts to be successful, it requires effective management leadership,  commitment, and communication to improve an organization’s safety culture.

For more information, contact ARM-Associates

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