How to Develop a Safety Culture

by Daniel Wilder on September 29, 2022

A safety culture ultimately stems from connection and how well valued an employee feels in their workplace.  While there are numerous methods of how to develop a worker, their frame of mind centers around the belief that your primary goal is to keep them safe.  This is followed by the importance they are making an impact in your company, and have the opportunity to grow.

Any successful culture has a top down approach.  This really boils down to accountability for your management, in any and all actions they take.  They cannot hold employees to a different set of standards unless they are meeting those requirements as well.  But accountability is only the foundation, management must also be proactive in encouraging feedback from employees, without repercussions.  This includes regular discussions on safety and training, as well as emerging concerns that may be occurring.

The goal is for employees to realize their input is warmly received and an attitude of everyone being on the lookout for risks and hazards.  This directly correlates to how your company tracks and logs near misses, as they are a leading indicator of an issue, prior to an incident.

Daily discussions and increasing the frequency of training are both critical factors on improving this culture, but also having clear responsibilities for each employee on their workplace tasks and how to protect against the associated risks and hazards for which they are exposed too.

As in all areas, documentation and reporting becomes an essential avenue for analysis and understanding of how your culture impacts your bottom line.  Each company is different, but an implementation of the following provides a beginning for how you can change the outlook in your workplace:

  1. Define safety responsibilities – every employee must have a safety related assignment.  Not only to educate them on the value but to keep them thinking about safety everyday.
  2. Share the company’s safety vision – work with management to put together a safety emphasis in your mission statement and set goals for the short and long term future.
  3. Enforce accountability – everyone is held to the same standards and any disciplinary action or enforcement should be applied on every employee of the company.
  4. Enable multiple reporting options – provide standard and anonymous reporting solutions for employees to file grievances and concerns without the risk of reprisal.
  5. Documentation and reporting – always document each stage of the process, including near misses, incidents and employee responses,
  6. Audit the investigation process – as you review each risk and hazard, as well as any near misses or incidents, do a thorough investigation, with the goal being to discover the root cause.
  7. Build trust and experience – showcasing safety as important will help in establishing trust with new hire employees, but also train your current ones on more advanced situations.
  8. Celebrate the success with everyone – when a company succeeds or hits a goal, include everyone in the celebration.  This promotes unity, but also demonstrates how every single person brought value to the company.