What does it mean to have a culture of safety?
A good safety culture creates an environment that influences workers to want to do the right thing—even when nobody’s watching. It promotes and recognizes the safe work of employees. It makes clear to employees that doing a good job means stopping work if they feel unsafe.
Every company already has a safety culture. However, many owners are frustrated because it isn’t the culture they want. Often safety begins as a top priority—until it starts interfering with production, or until it starts eating up profits when it calls for an expensive piece of safety equipment.
To have an effective safety culture, business owners must make safety a core principle of the company. Holding safety as a core principle means safety must be considered in all company choices, receiving equal weight with quality and production on the job-site.
No matter what state a company’s safety culture is in, there is always room for improvement and always a way to elevate its importance.
How can a company change its safety culture?
This 10-step list will help you analyze and improve your safety culture:
What else can you do to get your employees onboard?
None of this will work if your employees feel like they are being manipulated. Employees must know that you care about them personally. They must know that you are not making these changes to improve your bottom line but to make your organization a better and safer place to work. The improvement in your bottom line will be only a byproduct of these changes.
No matter how big your organization is, you must get face time with the front line. Remember their names. Show up onsite and talk to your workers personally. Invest in their lives. Get their feedback and show them how valuable they are to your company. These changes are not focused on how to improve your organization but on how to improve each individual who works in your organization. The best companies are not the best because they have the best equipment or processes. They are the best because they have the best people.
You’ll find it is easier to effect cultural change when you focus on improving your employees’ lives and making their jobs and decisions easier. Encouraging transparency, honesty, and integrity is a sure-fire way to improve work environments. The job-site is no different.
These efforts may seem overwhelming, especially if you want to change the culture of your entire company. Start small by focusing only on safety culture. Take baby steps to develop goals and strategies, implement proactive accountability, be consistent, and get more face time with your employees. Over time, you will start seeing this spread throughout your organization. Remember, if you can change the perspective of just one employee a day and you have 500 employees, in less than two years you will have the culture you desire.
More information on these concepts can be found in the book 6-Hour Safety Culture by Tim Autrey.