In a healthy safety culture all personnel share the same responsibility for safe work. Management AND the labor workforce must both support the safety culture, even though they have different perspectives.
In this blog, we share the perspectives of both roles and offer a tips for working together to achieve a safety culture!
The Management Safety Perspective:
The management goal is to provide a safe workplace and maintain safe procedures. The attitude they are perceived to have is that workers should follow them or be subject to discipline.
The role of management is to:
- Provide leadership & management support.
- Demonstrate commitment.
- Communicate expectations to employees.
- Require accountability from lower levels of management.
- Show a sense of moral and ethical concern.
To achieve a truly positive safety culture, it would mean that all personnel, regardless of position, job description, or time spent at the work site share equal responsibility in upholding safety standards and procedures to keep the entire job site safe. Management must lead by example when it comes to safety and back up their words with actions. Another key component to achieving a safety culture is to listen to feedback from the workforce on the ground. Failure to do so distances the workforce from management:
In short, the safety system should resonate with the workforce and represent their experiences and job tasks realistically through their own input. Not taking advantage of the wealth of practical knowledge that frontline workers can provide safety systems and operating procedures essentially devalues their first-hand experience and expertise, and it maintains the cultural rift between them and the managers, ensuring that frontline supervisors continue to turn a blind eye to nonstandard and potentially unsafe practices because production goals are routinely met. – Predictive Safety.
The Workforce Safety Perspective:
The labor workforce believes that discipline is less effective than pre-incident planning. The attitude they have is management should encourage laborers to work responsibly.
A common sentiment among frontline workers is that supervisors and managers show little concern for their well-being. Most of the time there is a communication issue at the heart of this misunderstanding:
Of course, managers did care, but often they did not understand the importance of expressing that care. The managers that employees felt could be trusted even if the company could not were those who “talked to people one-on-one, gathered their opinions, their concerns and ideas, and acted on them. – Predictive Safety.
On each jobsite, managers should give everyone the opportunity to be involved in safety management. All employees must be engaged to make safety the primary goal in fostering a safety culture. The role of management is to identify and empower the “safety champions”.
How Safety Professionals Help Create a Safety Culture
The role of safety professionals in creating safety culture is to be a technical expert that works alongside management and the labor workforce.
Experience proves that safety performance improves as organizations move to an “interdependent” safety culture.
In an interdependent safety culture, safety professionals are the “safety champions” that promote:
- High safety consciousness
- Helping others/working together
- Open reporting
- Pride in safety achievements
This type of culture creates a platform for sustainable safety performance.
Tips for Changing Behavior:
- Remove incentives for not getting injured and create incentives for reduced risk.
- Use mistakes to understand root cause.
- Report, track and correct near misses more frequently.
- Solve problems based on dialog and understanding.
This may feel like an uphill battle:
What transpires all too often is the diffusion of the message regarding safety for the simple lack of culture, but with the right approach and effective leadership an interdependent safety culture can become a reality in your organization. – Triumvirate Environmental.