WHAT IS SAFETY CULTURE
The technical definition of Safety Culture is “The product of individual and group values, attitudes, perceptions, competencies and patterns of behaviour that determine the commitment to, and the style and proficiency of an organization’s health & safety management.”(ACSNI: HSC, 1993). However, the simple and most effective definition is that Safety Culture ‘defines what people do when nobody is watching’. This definition refers to a culture where all people are connected to the safety message and have a sense of ownership and accountability for both their own safety, and those of their colleagues and customers. This sense of ownership is absolutely critical to both leading and sustaining a proactive safety culture.
Many organisations spend time, money and assign resources to managing the environmental, structural and compliance-based risks. These tend to be static and are relatively easy to control. However, the human factor when added to these environments often introduce ‘uncontrollables’ that can cause problems. In a nutshell, if an organisation allows itself to foster negative attitudes towards risk management and safety practices, any sense of ownership will get eroded over time and risk will increase. Another symptom of poor safety culture is an increased propensity to claim following an injury, no matter how it happened or where the fault may actually lie.
Organisations with a Poor Safety Culture generally demonstrate:
- Poor compliance
- Poor risk management systems
- Poor leadership of Safety Best Practice
- Disengaged staff
- Poor operational feedback and communication of the safety message
- Poor attitudes that lead to unsafe behaviours in the workplace (e.g. ‘it’s not my job to stay safe’; ‘I’ve never been hurt before so nothing will happen to me’; ‘all of this safety stuff is over the top’)
- Mistrust of Management
- Increased claims culture
Organisations with a Proactive Safety Culture generally demonstrate:
- Adherence to relevant compliance
- People-based risk management systems (e.g. practical, visual and engaging systems)
- Effective leadership of Safety Best Practice (at front-line manager level)
- Engaged and motivated staff
- Positive attitudes that lead to safe behaviours in the workplace (e.g. ‘safety is an important part of every function’; ‘I will be accountable for both my own, my colleague’s and my customer’s safety’)
- Trusting Management because they give feedback and connect people through practical systems
- Reduced or non-existent claims culture
So how does an organization go about building a Proactive Safety Culture which would positively impact on both staff morale and the bottom line? Read next week’s article for more on the ‘how’…
Contact SeaChange for support in increasing safety culture and reducing the likelihood of claims within your business.