Robert Jones took over his father’s industrial based company a few years ago. When he became president of the company, he implemented internal training in safety aspects, became a proponent of vigilant supervision and even had to resort to the threat of punishment for non-compliance.
These methods all worked. His company did become safer. But, that is not Robert’s problem. His workers comply, but they never become motivated to become proactive in the safety of themselves or their fellow workers. They seem to have an inability to move beyond the minimum compliance of his workplace safety procedures.
Every workplace is subject to the regulations established in the 1970 Occupational Safety and Health act, so why is it that so many workplaces fail to move beyond the minimum? Because of a lack of a strong Safety Culture within the company.
What are the Characteristics of a Strong Safety Culture?
According to Dr. Aubrey Daniels [http://aubreydaniels.com/workplace-safety], there are several characteristics that go into the developing of a strong safety culture:
Employers inject safety into all aspects of the work life. Safety has been moved to the forefront by including it in workplace conversations and putting in on every meeting agenda. Safety needs to be more than just a standalone topic discussed on the first day of the job.
There is a relentless pursuit of hazards. This includes the identification of hazards, as well as the resolution. Employees know that system failures will be remedied without the threat of recrimination for identifying them to upper management.
Employees experience a sense of pride in achieving safety goals. This also includes the daily work that it takes to achieve those goals!
The reporting of safety issues is easy. If there is excess paperwork, data entry, or other roadblocks to effectively reporting safety concerns, incidents will inevitable not be reported. The reporting system needs to be quick and easy.
Open and honest communication exists at all levels. Safety is not just a workers’ problem. Safety is a company-wide initiative that has to be felt, practiced and supported by every level of management and worker!
As Dr. Daniels points out, “in order to create a safety culture, companies need to build safety into their overall management process and look at the behavior of all employees up and down the organization.”
By working toward a system of behaviors that reinforce safety and embody the above characteristics, Robert will begin to see a shift in the culture of his company. A shift that will lead him in the direction in which he is seeking.