Safety Culture: How to engage your workforce
Your ultimate guide to positive Health & Safety Culture
in your organisation
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According to a study conducted by the HSE, “The safety culture of an organisation 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 organisation’s health and safety management”.
In simpler terms, safety culture can primarily be referred to as the way things are done in your workplace.
Organisations with positive safety culture are based on mutual trust and share the same perception of the importance of safety and have confidence in the efficacy of the preventive measures they have put in place.
The good news is that by reading this guide you will learn everything you need to know how to engage your workforce in positive safety culture
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Building and maintaining a durable, effective safety culture is a conscious, intentional process that requires successfully completing several steps. These include:
- Articulate Values. It's essential that top leadership state and reinforce these values.
- Establish Expected Behaviours. This includes setting policies and procedures regarding how activities are to be conducted.
- Establish Expected Ways of Thinking. A systems thinking approach is important for addressing the factors that lead to safety incidents.
- Invest Resources. Resources include sufficient time, correct equipment and internal staff support.
- De-incentivise Undesired Behaviours. This means enforcing consequences for inappropriate safety actions.
- Incentivise Desired Behaviours. Incentives include recognition, awards, incentives, and promoting safety norms.
- Promote Continuous Improvement.
We have also put together a downloadable guide for 9 steps to a successful Safety Culture which could help you get on top of your safety needs.
Often health and safety personal can enter a company which have pre-established safety cultures, be it good or bad. A challenge can arise when the safety culture of the organisation is not sufficient to ensure the employees stay safe. Moreover, changing the safety culture of an organisation can be difficult and is not a simple task. However, safety culture stands as a pillar in your overall health and safety programme and is vital for the success of all health and safety related achievements. To do so, steps must be put in place to alter the attitudes, behaviours and norms of the organisation’s employees.
- Commitment and Communication
- Lead by example
- Develop and Implement a Positive Reporting Process
- Provide Training
- Involve Employees
Do you need further help altering the attitudes, behaviours and norms of your organisation’s employees? Take a look at our blog on 5 Practical Steps to Change the Culture in your Organisation for more details.
Once an organisation has established an appropriate Safety culture, issues arise in engaging workers in this safety culture. Perhaps even more challenging, has been the ability to consistently maintain those safety performances. Many companies struggle with how to best keep their employees safe over the long term. With so many guidelines, statistics and opinions out there, it can often be hard to determine the right solutions for any given work environment, as in most cases there are no one-size-fits-all answers.
Workers can often become dis-engaged as a result of a lack of appreciation or not taking their suggestions seriously. A situation which is detrimental to any long-term progress and often results in safety concerns becoming more prevalent in the workplace.
This begs the question; how can we improve the process of engaging our workforce when it comes to health and safety matters? The following five points should be the basic considerations for any organisation:
- Leadership Commitment
- Set up Health and Safety Committees within the business
- Make “Safety” Personal
- Reward Positive Behaviours
- Monitor programs and track results
To read more about engaging your co-workers in health and safety take a look at our full blog post on this topic.
Creating a safe and hazard-free environment contributes, not only to better mental and physical well-being of workers with the promotion of positive safety culture but also higher productivity. Businesses with higher safety and health standards are more competitive and sustainable. It doesn’t come as shocking news that poor or non-existent occupational safety and health (OSH) practices cost companies money. But did you know that according to studies, for every Euro invested in OSH, there is a return of €2.2 Euros? The study was initiated by the International Social Security Association (ISSA), and included 337 interviewed companies representing 19 countries.
To read more on how senior management benefit from improving OSH click below:
Health & Safety Committees
Another area which we discussed briefly above is the need to establish a Health and Safety Committee to promote and improve safety culture. Health and safety committees over the past few years have become very effective ways of gaining stronger employee participation and buy-in when it comes to safety, health and welfare matters affecting employees at the workplace.
In an ever-evolving workplace, safety practices and standards have very much started focusing on employee engagement and involvement in making safety decisions. This has even become more clear in the recently introduced ISO 45001 Occupational Health and Safety Management System, where employee participation in safety decisions is one of the key concepts being presented in the standard.
Below are the steps we establish to be best practices for setting up safety committees:
- Select a Sponsor
- Assign a Chairperson
- Provide meeting support
- Carefully Consider the Members
To read more about setting up safety committees and the areas that should be discussed in committee meetings click here:
All in all, these committees need to be used to empower employees to make health and safety decisions in relation to their workplace. The collective participation in improving health and safety aspects of their organisations has a huge impact on increasing employee morale, leadership and further enhancing the collective safety culture.
Introducing Toolbox Talks
In addition to safety committees, toolbox talks can be an important component of a positive safety culture. Toolbox talks is a two-way discussion about safety which allows and promotes employees to focus on a particular issue in a non-threatening environment. These tools can be used daily to promote department safety culture as well as to facilitate health and safety discussions on job sites. Also, conducting such gatherings can welcome new ideas and allow employees to exchange feedback with managers and other departments.
-Tips for running Successful Toolbox Talks
Although these talks are informal and there are no set rules of how best to conduct such talks. Here is a defined framework which may help you to begin promoting them.
Keep them short- As they are informal it is not necessary to take up too much of people’s time, no more than 15 minutes should be sufficient.
Define the topic- Ensure that everyone has a good understanding of what issue is being discussed. Defining the technical terms can be a good start to this step.
Make it relevant- Bring the safety issue into context with the group’s daily tasks. Understand the type of people who are attending and their daily tasks and use real-life examples that they will understand.
Ask if anyone needs training- After your initial discussion, it may become apparent that re-training may be necessary. By opening this topic up to the floor, you can get a feel of if that is true and necessary.
Help Your Employees Visualise Safety
Promoting positive safety culture can be as easy as creating visual aids for employees surrounding safety related topics. One of the causes of injuries at work is when employees aren’t aware of the danger that is present. Posters can help with localised awareness of specific dangers, or can promote safety in general. These posters can be as specific as “How to use a Fire Extinguisher” or as generic as describing “Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)”
We have designed many visual aids across a broad range of topics, click below to download the relevant posters which would be useful in your organisation:
Teach Responsibility with Job Safety Analysis
The importance of good training procedures can not be over-emphasised if you’re trying to promote a safety culture. Many organisations with a strong safety culture have one thing in common: they use proven ways of teaching responsibility. One of these tools includes Job Safety Analysis to help create a safe work environment.
-Job Safety Analysis
A JSA is one of the many ways you can control occupational hazards. The process is designed to identify potential workplace safety hazards, and provides employees with recommendations on how to reduce and eliminate these risks. Appropriate steps to conduct a JSA may include the following:
- Identify the basic steps involved in a particular job or task
- Identify the hazards and the potential hazards with each step. Be sure to consider the entire job environment around each step.
- Make safety recommendations for each step.
There are two things to note about JSA. JSA should be done regularly by your organisation and it should be conducted as a team project. Taking both into consideration its safe to say that conducting JSA can promote positive health and safety culture and engage your workforce.
Safety culture can be promoted as easily as ensuring your employees are trained to conduct their work safely but also in the correct manner and are given the correct equipment to do so. Many people find themselves using a computer for a large part of their day. Poor workplace design or lack of appropriate equipment can contribute to workplace injuries and illness. By making your employees aware of the dangerous of poor ergonomics can lead to improved safety culture.
Take a look at our blog post on workplace ergonomics for more details.
It has been noted that sustainable practices are generating more than just goodwill in some organisations. When the health and safety department incorporate initiatives, like recycling programmes for example, into everyday practices, they’re working to strengthen the culture of safety. When encouraging positive behaviours, it can eventually contribute to overall safety culture at work. In practice, it’s all about engaging and motivating employees to “do the right thing”. By promoting such sustainability for example, you’re working on attitudes, beliefs, and values to achieve your goals.
In a positive culture questions about health and safety should be part of everyday work conversations. Management should listen actively to what they are being told by employees, and take what they hear seriously. Employees should feel confident to report accidents and near misses to enable the company to learn lessons from these. To read more on near misses click the link here.
- Lower absenteeism – if people are fit and healthy, they’ll remain at work.
- Lower cost on wages – no doubled-up costs of sick pay and overtime cover to fill the gaps.
- Happier workforce – if employees feel safe and secure at work, they’ll be happier.
- Lower staff turnover – if employees don’t think the grass is greener elsewhere, companies will be paying a lot less to replace workers who’ve left resulting in a lot less on onboarding, recruitment and training.
- Reduced risk of fines – if the HSE were unhappy with health and safety practices, companies could be subject to hefty fines.
- Reduced insurance claims – injury and illness claims, property damage and business interruption all cost money. Investing money to reduce claims will save money in the long term.
- Reduced insurance premiums – The better the health and safety performance, the lower the premium.
- Improved productivity, quality & profitability – the presence of positive workplace perceptions and feelings are associated with higher customer loyalty, higher profitability, higher productivity and lower rates of staff turnover.
- More satisfied clients & stakeholders – if quality, efficiency and staff relations are all exemplary a business will have a reputation to reflect that.
If you want to learn more about how to engage your workforce with Health & Safety Culture, we recommend the following articles:
5 ways to engage your co-workers in health and safety
Establishing a strong health and safety conscious work environment is a major challenge for most organizations, nevertheless, numerous companies worldwide have gone on to develop safety cultures that have resulted in them achieving great, and ultimately, more efficient and productive work units.Read more
How to Set up Effective Health and Safety Committees
Health and safety committees over the past few years have become very effective ways of gaining stronger employee participation and buy-in when it comes to safety, health and welfare matters affecting employees at the workplace.Read more
5 Practical Steps to Change the Culture in your Organisation
According to a study conducted by the HSE, “The safety culture of an organisation 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 organisation’s health and safety management”.read more
How Senior Management benefit from improving OSH
It doesn’t come as shocking news that poor or non-existent occupational safety and health (OSH) practices cost companies money. But did you know that according to studies, for every Euro invested in OSH, there is a return of €2.2 Euros?Read more
9 Steps to a Successful Safety Culture
It’s the set of values that management and the workforce use to determine how they act at work. 9 steps safety managers can take to make safety a greater value to management and to front-line employees and to build a stronger safety culture.Read more
Near Miss Reporting: A Different Approach to a Familiar Challenge
A near-miss is defined as an incident that could have resulted in injury, illness, or property damage, but for some reason or other, it did not. Often attributed to just a matter of timing or just…pure luck.Read More