The Key To A Successful Safety Culture

Written by Daniel Aday, CompOne Administrators Safety & Loss Prevention Specialist

Common safety slogans of companies who have taken that first step toward building a safety culture include:

  • Our goal is zero accidents
  • We believe all accidents are avoidable
  • Safety is our #1 priority.

Or, maybe this is something that your company has once said. While these are all great statements, they are only just that: statements, and a statement is only the first step. Many companies stop after creating a safety manual or policy and having the employees sign it saying they are responsible for their safety, but this is only the beginning of their safety culture!

What Is A Safety Culture?
Before we go into finding the key to a safety culture, what exactly is a safety culture and why it is important to you as an employer or manager? A safety culture is the combination of knowledge, ability for continuous improvement, and willingness to participate in all things safety. It is not one person’s job, but encompasses the entire group of employees, customers, visitors and guests. If your safety stops once an employee signs a safety policy, then this article is the perfect place to start!
The key to a successful safety culture is: Top-Down Support and Bottom-Up Involvement.Top-Down Support
The President, Chairperson, Owner, CEO, or whomever is in charge of your company or business, is ultimately the spokesperson and the “leader” of your employees. There is no single person who is more influential in the safety culture. Their support is ultimately the foundation of your safety culture. Having them speak on safety, distribute safety information, or simply provide recognition of safe acts is what promotes this culture. If you do have a safety manual or policy, ensure that this leader is active in the creation of it and they endorse it at all levels.
Next, is to have all, or most of all, upper levels of management partake in safety to some extent. It could be as simple as having a quarterly or bi-annual safety meeting where they review past incidents and safety concerns and speak about what direction the culture of safety is headed. Do anything you can achieve to get them involved and brought up to speed on their company’s or business’s safety. This is seen by all levels as the appreciation for employee’s well-being and has immediate rewards by increased employee morale.Lastly, if your company or business is small, or does not have upper management, it is important that you lead by example. Show up to job sites with the correct PPE, encourage safety training, promote your safety culture and your employees will allow it to grow.

Bottom-Up Involvement
Participation is key from all levels, including the individual with no experience that you just hired. The biggest set-back to a successful safety culture is when an employee does not feel that their input matters or it goes unheard. If an employee makes a suggestion, ensure that you do what you can to implement it. Even if it may seem silly, it encourages them to be more active in your building of safety culture and could lead to a great safety idea or implementation. If you don’t have a form that employees can fill out for safety ideas or any other continuous improvement ideas, then create one. Even if it hardly gets used, it will still make employees feel empowered. Additionally, if you do have a safety meeting, extend the invitation to all levels of employment.Hold safety events, luncheon trainings, or give prizes that are all aimed at promoting and encouraging safety with all levels. These events allow an introduction into your beginning safety culture and jump start something that may not even be thought about until you first bring light to it.

Wherever you start, the most important thing that you can do is to take that first step and keep following up with it. Sometimes safety gets set aside or it is assumed that “accidents happen.” Not believing in that misconception and forming your own safety culture will improve your safety, reduce workers’ comp costs and frequency and greatly improve employee morale.

Should you require assistance, please contact Daniel Aday, CompOne Administrators Inc. at daday@compone.net.

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