Creating a Safety Culture at Work

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Safety culture, a behavior-based concept developed by H.W. Heinrich in the 1930s and 1940s, was originally created so employers would have a way to observe and change unsafe worker behavior. Unfortunately, this placed all the blame for accidents directly on the employees. Today’s bosses realize that workers aren’t always to blame, and outside factors are taken into consideration. he modern safety culture is the end result of combined individual and group efforts toward values, attitudes, goals, and proficiency of an organization’s health and safety program. Below are some tips for creating an inclusive, healthy safety culture at your own workplace.

Create an official safety plan

  • The aim of your plan should be building safe habits and a healthy work environment.
  • Covered topics should include: safety policies, goals, and an overview of what “safety culture” means for your organization.
  • Responsibilities should be defined for workers at every level, from the CEO down.
  • Educate all employees about your safety plan. It is the #1 thing you can do to help get everyone on the same page.
  • Prepare for an increase in incidents up-front, especially if there was no official plan in place for reporting things in the past.

Create a culture of accountability

  • Identify changes that need to be made within the organization and assign responsibility to make those changes.
  • Hold managers and leaders responsible just as much as everyone else – this helps create a good example for the rest of the employees.
  • Provide multiple options for reporting incidents. Some employees will not be comfortable reporting an accident face-to-face. Other options should include submitting a written report, or filling out an online form.

Create good working relationships

  • Set clear expectations for employees at all levels.
  • Seek to understand problems, rather than assign blame.
  • Acknowledge a job well-done.
  • Make sure employees feel safe reporting incidents without fear of retribution.

Provide positive feedback

  • When employees feel like their efforts are noticed, it gives them a reason to go above and beyond.
  • Consider offering a small incentive for safe behavior, such as extra time off, or a company outing. Just be careful – it is easy to create an environment in which employees don’t report incidents in order to earn their reward. It all comes back to having that trusting relationship!
  • When an employee­­ is positively motivated, by reward, or just positive feedback, they will look for safety violations, report unsafe behavior, and suggest corrections more freely than they did before.

When you’re creating a safety culture at work, make sure everyone is aware of your plans and stays updated throughout the process. A team that is made part of plan development is a team that will fight to make it work.

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