Safety culture is defined as an organizational culture with an emphasis on safety beliefs, values and attitudes. A strong culture can positively influence employees’ viewpoints, causing a significant change in safety behaviors. Additionally, companies with strong safety cultures have noticeably lower injury and fatality rates in comparison to those with poor or non-existent cultures.
Today, companies better understand the significance of a workplace culture centered around accident prevention and employee safety. Therefore, safety has increasingly become a popular topic of discussion. In fact, more and more businesses are investing in safety management efforts – leading to a 13% increase in Safety Manager job growth between 2015-2020. This growth reflects the increasing value of workplace safety and the need for a strong culture to support it.
Read ahead to learn how you can strengthen your company’s safety culture.
Assess the Current Safety Culture
In the pursuit to strengthen your company’s safety culture, you should begin by performing a thorough assessment of the current culture. At minimum, a formal evaluation of the safety culture should take place once every 12 months. When executed correctly, this type of detailed review provides valuable, actionable insights to help you identify which areas of your safety culture need an improvement.
Consider analyzing the following as part of your annual review:
- Safety policies and guidelines
- Employee engagement
- Leadership support
- Annual number of accidents
Once you’ve successfully completed the assessment and determined the areas that need updating, you can begin the planning process for implementing these changes to enhance your culture.
Provide Ongoing Trainings
A recent study by manufacturing media resource company, Automation World, found that 74% of respondents believe training to be the most important component of building a solid safety culture. With proper and frequent trainings, employees will more readily embrace safety because they’ll be more aware of company safety policies and their role in maintaining a safe work environment.
Safety trainings should be provided to both new hires and existing employees on an ongoing basis. For new hires, effective training is particularly important being that 17% of new hires will quit in the first 90 days because of an ineffective onboarding program. An effective onboarding process can teach new teammates about your safety policies and company values, and communicate the importance of safety in the workplace. For tenured employees, trainings can serve as a refresher on topics such as properly handling equipment or reporting hazards.
Get Support from Your Team
Creating a safe work environment and building a strong safety culture cannot be accomplished alone. Instead, the buy-in and support of the entire company is needed to successfully complete this goal. You can gain the support of your team by communicating the value of maintaining a safe workplace and how prioritizing safety can benefit each employee. Simply reminding employees of the direct impact their participation can have on the safety of their own and coworkers’ safety can make it easier to drive employee engagement.
Encourage Employees to Provide Feedback
One of the strengths of companies with great safety cultures is the support of their employees. Typically, companies with strong employee engagement and support openly demonstrate their concern for their employees’ wellbeing. One way to convey your concern for your employees is by encouraging them to voice their concerns and provide feedback regarding workplace safety initiatives. In fact, most employees enjoy having a sense of ownership in the safety process and are willing to share feedback with their company.
Allowing employees to share feedback on the current safety culture can reveal powerful insights into which processes can be improved. Additionally, giving them the opportunity to vocalize concerns can boost productivity. According to Forbes, employees who feel their voice is heard are 4.6 times more likely to perform their best work. As such, you should genuinely listen to and address any employee concerns and consider any alterations that should be made based on their responses.
Lead by Example
When it comes to workplace safety, management sets the tone for the rest of the team. Employees observe the actions of company leadership – and if those in authority don’t follow guidelines and protocols neither will the rest of the team. One way to ensure that executives and managers alike lead by example is by helping them view safety efforts as a necessary component of reaching the company’s overarching productivity and profitability goals. Explaining how a reduction in workplace accidents can minimize up to 80% of costs and reduce the number of missed workdays can help you get leadership on board. With the help of the leadership team, you can build a stronger safety culture in which other employees will want to participate.
A strong safety culture is valuable for all organizations – especially those that want to minimize workplace injuries, reduce bottom line costs and increase productivity and employee engagement. As you work towards building a safer environment and a stronger safety culture, consider these five methods to help you achieve your goals. Check out our whitepaper discussing ways to boost employee morale with safety.