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Creating a Safety Culture

When it comes to your company, safety should be a top priority. Safety is more than just a set of activities focused on accident prevention. It is a way of thinking and it should be at the heart of any successful company. When you address unsafe conditions or actions before they become issues, you are building your safety culture. Having a culture of safety is vital to your company, it improves employee morale, empowers employees, and can even boost your bottom line. According to Nationwide, the average cost of a minor workplace incident is 16 times higher than the average cost of preventive measures and serious or fatal incidents are 48 times higher. Not to mention, that companies who value safety see lower risk behaviors, lower absenteeism, and higher productivity.

When it comes to safety in your company, there are three key elements to consider:
  • Injury and Illness Prevention Programs. These programs can identify common injuries and illnesses related to the specific position and recommend preventive measures.
  • Safety Leadership and Safety Culture. This is an opportunity for the organization’s leadership to lead by example, demonstrating the importance of a culture of safety across all operations.
  • General Safety Training. This includes many of the traditional safety practices and programs that employers offer.

In this blog post we are going to be focusing on Safety Leadership and Safety Culture. However, it is important to recognize the other two key elements as well and to make sure you are valuing all three of them within your company.

In creating a culture of safety, it is important to make sure that your company’s leadership believes in safety and models it themselves. Employees who see leadership following safety policies and procedures are more likely to follow suit. You also want to involve and support your employees by creating a supporting and engaging environment. Create policies and procedures that all employees are aware of and that outline how to report safety concerns. Take all concerns seriously and respond in a timely manner. Involve your employees in safety inspections and daily activities related to safety. When your employees are involved, they are more likely to be empowered and on board with the culture of safety.

It is also important to recognize and reward your employees for their impact on your safety culture. Create a safety incentive program that rewards your employees for safety related behaviors such as reporting concerns or being proactive. Try not to reward based on a decrease of incidents as this can lead to employees not reporting incidents when they should be and creates an unsafe environment.

How exactly do you create a culture of safety in your company? Consider the following four steps.

Evaluate Risks
In order to understand how to create a safer work place, you must first understand the risks that are being faced within your company every day. Each task and its associated risks should be evaluated, and then safety-based changes considered. You should also analyze any past incidents and understand what caused them and how they could have been prevented. By understanding the risks and analyzing previous incidents, you can better prevent and prepare for future incidents.

Design a Plan
Once you have identified the risks, you will need to develop policies and procures to combat them. These should use prevention and precaution and hold individuals responsible for their actions. Start from the beginning and focus on the risks that pose the greatest threats. You should consider how often the risk occurs and the severity of the potential loss a risk poses as well as what the opportunities are to prevent them. Solutions can be as large as implementing controls or as small as administrative policy changes. Your plan should create positive changes in safety attitude, commitment, and culture

Implement Your Plan
Now that your plan is developed it is time to put it into action. This means communicating your plan and its details throughout your company, training your employees, and scheduling regular practices. How well your plan works comes down to how much your employees know and what they do when an incident does happen.

Monitor, Evaluate, and Improve Your Plan
As your company changes, so should your safety culture. You should be monitoring your plan’s performance and collecting feedback, adjusting when needed. Evaluate how it works compared to the original expectations and recognize success where it exists. It is important to review your safety policy and protocols anytime there is an incident or major change in business operations. They should also be reviewed annually. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has developed a tool that can help you to evaluate your safety programs.

A safety culture is vital to your company to ensure that everyone is acting safely and that risks are being addressed. It is also important in the event that an incident does happen, that all involved know how to handle it correctly. By creating, implementing, and evaluating a plan, you are creating that safety culture. Make sure that leadership is involved and on board and that they relay the information to their employees.