Your workplace’s health and safety culture, proactive management of health and safety, and health and safety performance are interlinked. Building a strong health and safety culture will have a positive impact on your workers, your bottom line, and public perception.
Once you’ve met the basic health and safety program requirements, you can focus on the following:
- Active health and safety management
- Planning for safety
- Leadership and commitment
- Supervising for health and safety
- Engaging workers
- Due diligence
Culture is “the way we do things around here.” It includes shared practices, attitudes, and perceptions that influence behaviour. Workplace culture is influenced by many things, including leadership, management, and supervision styles and priorities; peer pressure; workplace conditions; and design and production logistics.
In an organization with a positive health and safety mindset, the managers, supervisors, and workers share common values that make worker health and safety a priority. They anticipate unsafe acts and conditions and correct them before harm is done. They engage in injury and disease prevention. Most of all, they take ownership of health and safety issues.
Improving health and safety culture
Taking action on health and safety items has a positive impact on your health and safety culture. For instance, putting in new risk controls (such as machine safeguarding, guardrails, or anti-slip floor treatments) demonstrates commitment to protecting workers and preventing injuries. This in turn builds a workplace culture that values health and safety.
Improving your organization’s health and safety culture and performance involves clearly demonstrating that the organization places a high priority on:
- Preventing injuries
- Minimizing risks
- Solving occupational health and safety issues
- Investing in control measures
- Engaging your entire workforce in health and safety
- Being transparent and open about health and safety
- Leading and striving for continual improvement in health and safety performance
Assessing your health and safety culture
There are tools to help you obtain a thorough assessment of your organization’s health and safety culture. Analyzing the information gathered through these tools can then help identify further steps your organization could take to improve.
There are two basic ways to assess health and safety culture:
- Subjective assessments, such as workforce perception surveys (health and safety climate surveys)
- Objective assessments of leading health and safety processes and practices that help grow a good health and safety culture. This objective information may come from assessments such as health and safety management and best practice audits, compliance audits, due diligence assessments, site risk assessments, and other evaluations.
Combining the objective and subjective assessments can provide a road map for designing focused initiatives for health and safety culture and performance improvement.