Why do you need a Safety Culture Program?
OSHA requires developing a strong Safety Culture Program which will have the single greatest impact on incident reduction for your company. It is for this single reason that developing a Safety Culture Program should be top priority for all managers and supervisors. Our 360° for Life Safety Culture program stands for safety at work and at home.
What is a Safety Culture Program and how will it impact my company?
Safety cultures consist of shared beliefs, practices, and attitudes that exist at your company. Culture is the atmosphere created by those beliefs, practices, and attitudes which shape our behavior.
An organization’s Safety Culture Program is the result of a number of factors such as:
- Management and employee norms, assumptions and beliefs;
- Management and employee attitudes;
- Values, myths, stories;
- Policies and procedures;
- Supervisor priorities, responsibilities and accountability;
- Production and bottom line pressures vs. quality issues;
- Actions or lack of action to correct unsafe behaviors;
- Employee training and motivation; and
- Employee involvement or “buy-in.”
In a strong Safety Culture Program, everyone feels responsible for safety and pursues it on a daily basis; employees go beyond “the call of duty” to identify unsafe conditions and behaviors, and intervene to correct them. For instance, in a strong Safety Culture Program, any worker would feel comfortable walking up to the plant manager or CEO and reminding him or her to wear safety glasses. This type of behavior would not be viewed as forward or over-zealous but would be valued by the organization and rewarded. Likewise, coworkers routinely look out for one another and point out unsafe behaviors to each other.
A company with a strong Safety Culture Program typically experiences few at-risk behaviors, consequently they also experience low incident rates, low turn-over, low absenteeism, and high productivity. They are usually companies who are extremely successful by excelling in all aspects of business and excellence.
Creating a Safety Culture Program takes time. It is frequently a multi-year process. A series of continuous process improvement steps can be followed to create your Safety Culture Program. Employer and employee commitment are hallmarks of a true Safety Culture Program where safety is an integral part of daily operations.
A company at the beginning of the road toward developing a Safety Culture Program may exhibit a level of safety awareness, consisting of safety posters and warning signs. As more time and commitment are devoted, a company will begin to address physical hazards and should develop safety recognition programs, create safety committees, and start incentive programs.
Top management support of your Safety Culture Program often results in acquiring a Safety or Risk Management Director, providing resources for incident investigations, and safety training. Further progress toward a true Safety Culture Program uses accountability systems. These systems establish safety goals, measure safety activities, and charge costs back to the units that incur them. Ultimately, safety becomes everyone’s responsibility, not just that of the Safety or Risk Management Director. Safety becomes a value of the organization and is an integral part of operations. Management and employees are committed and involved in preventing losses. Over time the norms and beliefs of the organization shift focus from eliminating hazards to eliminating unsafe behaviors and building systems that proactively improve safety and health conditions. Employee safety and doing something the right way takes precedence over short term production pressures. Simultaneously, production does not suffer but is enhanced due to the level of excellence developed within the organization.