Workplace Safety: Building a Safety-Focused Workplace Culture
Between 1930 and 1940, a man named H.W. Heinrich developed a safety concept for companies based on the behavior of the workers. He came up with this concept by researching hundreds of insurance reports, which concluded that nearly 90% of work-related accidents are a result of neglect on the part of employees. His research concluded that some individuals inherit certain traits that cause them to more prone to accidents. According to Heinrich, correcting the behavior of such particular individuals could lower the rate of accidents in the workplace.
Modern-day industry professionals consider the approach a bit outdated, though. While the method could be of help, it is no longer enough in bridging the gap in terms of safety. Today, safety professionals use an organization-wide approach, which includes combined efforts of groups and individuals toward goals, attitudes, and values, as well as the competence of the company’s safety program.
Creating a safety culture in your own company that’s effective and enduring is a large commitment and can be a long process. However, the effort you and your company puts into it can result not only in a reduction in accidents, but also in a positive attitude of your people toward safety. Here are some things that will help you get started on establishing a safety culture for your organization.
Define Safety Roles and Responsibilities
Giving your company a clear definition of each of their roles and responsibilities will help them become more aware of their actions. Do this for every level of your organization. It could be goals, plans, policies – the key is to make everyone aware that they have a role to play in keeping the workplace safe.
Share The Company’s Safety Vision
It would be easier to establish a safety-focused culture if everyone is in the same boat. Share the vision of the company regarding safety every chance that you get until it is so ingrained in the hearts and minds of your employees. Put the vision into words and place it where it would be the first thing your people see as they come to work in the morning and the last thing before they leave in the evening.
Establish A Chain Of Command
Employees should be given different options as to where they should bring issues and concerns. A chain of command will see to it that supervisors are all held accountable for being alert and responsive at all times.
Accountability is critical when building a culture of safety. Every member of the organization should be held accountable, especially the supervisors and the managers.
Enforce The Importance of Reporting
An increase in workplace incidents is usually the result of under-reporting. Educate your people about the importance of reporting first aids, injuries, or even near misses. This, too, will increase the level of awareness and really strengthen the culture you are trying to establish.
As mentioned, the process could be a bit difficult and may even cause some members to feel discouraged at times. Keep everyone on the team motivated and updated by celebrating successes and making everyone’s efforts public.
Companies with a safety culture usually have loyal employees, because it means you are showing a deep concern for their well being. When people know that they are well taken care of, they feel inspired and encouraged, knowing that they are relevant and important, not just as employees, but as human beings.