Safety is an important topic for many workplaces that involve heavy machinery, complex equipment, and chemical substances. Many companies try to establish a positive safety culture to ensure the well-being of their employees in hazardous environments. Knowing about safety culture can help employees stay safe while performing their jobs.
Let’s start with the definition:
What is a culture of safety in the workplace?
A culture of safety in the workplace refers to positive attitudes toward keeping employees safe while they do their jobs. Safety culture is often important in work environments with a more frequent change of hazards, like construction or manufacturing. Effective safety culture includes positivity and proactivity.
Employees in management positions and those who work on-site in factories or construction zones can encourage positivity by communicating openly about procedures and prioritizing safety over productivity, allowing professionals to address issues quickly and maintain important standards. Being proactive about safety is essential for all employees, too, as mitigating hazards before they happen shows respect for employees and their health.
What is the Importance of a culture of safety in the workplace?
Having a positive, proactive safety culture in the workplace is vital to maintaining employees’ physical health while on job sites. Employees who feel comfortable discussing safety issues in their workplace are more likely to perform better, learn from their mistakes and fix problems before they cause harm. An effective safety culture also guides employees on how to respond to safety issues, which encourages them to address hazards quickly and remain accountable. Here are some of the various ways a positive culture of safety can benefit your organization:
Higher employee satisfaction:
Employees who feel safe and heard because of a positive safety culture are typically happier than those who don’t. Workplace satisfaction may also help improve performance and create strong relationships between management and on-site employees.
Encouraging the safety and happiness of employees motivates them to be more productive. Plus, consistent safety standards and procedures provide guidance for performing work, which allows employees to work more efficiently.
Fewer legal concerns:
A safety culture can help reduce accidents in the workplace and encourage companies to remain compliant with safety regulations, resulting in fewer legal concerns.
More informed management:
Informed management like supervisors, general managers, and even CEOS make better safety decisions and take care of their on-site employees. A positive safety culture promotes learning and offers educational opportunities for all employees.
Workplaces that foster a culture of safety often have a better reputation because they show care and respect for their employees. A good reputation helps companies get more customers and make a profit, but it also helps them hire excellent employees and afford safety training.
11 Characteristics of a safety culture.
Number 1. Safety is the highest priority.
While deadlines and productivity are necessary for a workplace to function, a positive safety culture will make safety the highest priority. Management can show their dedication to this priority by encouraging on-site employees to work efficiently but cautiously rather than rushing and taking shortcuts to meet deadlines. When safety is the highest priority in a workplace, management shows that they value the health and lives of employees more than productivity.
Number 2. Everyone is accountable.
In a positive safety culture, all employees are accountable for maintaining standards and procedures. This means management enforces safety standards and understands the requirements for a safe workplace, while on-site employees follow those standards and ensure their colleagues follow them, too. When an employee doesn’t follow safety procedures, a workplace with a positive safety culture will hold them accountable and offer resources to avoid the issue in the future.
Number 3. On-site workers influence safety procedures.
While management often writes the safety documents, an effective safety culture will use input from on-site employees to create the procedures and standards outlined in those documents. This is because on-site employees who work directly with tools and equipment typically know more about the hazards of the job than their managers. Asking on-site workers to contribute information to safety documents makes the documents more complete and effective.
Number 4. All levels of management understand safety.
Although employees in management positions don’t work directly with hazardous tools and equipment, it’s important that they understand their company’s safety procedures to contribute to safety communication and positivity. Management can visit their on-site employees regularly to check for compliance, assess potential hazards and ask questions to further their understanding. When management understands safety in the workplace, they are more likely to address employee concerns and create effective procedures.
Number 5. Safety supervisors receive support.
Safety supervisors oversee work zones to ensure that employees follow all safety standards. To maintain a positive safety culture in the workplace, it’s important to support safety supervisors as they do their work. Support could mean that employees listen willingly to the supervisor’s directions, ask questions to understand safety procedures, or encourage other employees to practice safety. Management can also support safety supervisors by listening to their concerns and addressing them.
Number 6. Improvement is continuous.
Continual improvement of safety standards and procedures is crucial to maintaining a positive, proactive safety culture in the workplace. In many companies, managers review procedures and update them with new information, like changing equipment brands or using new production techniques. Relevant updates and continuous improvements to procedures can help make safety a top priority in the workplace.
Number 7. Management encourages communication.
Communication between all levels of a company helps promote safety and positivity in the workplace. Frequent, clear communication allows on-site employees to discuss concerns of which management might not be aware. Some ways management can encourage communication include keeping open communication with on-site employees, offering opportunities for collaboration sessions, and making it easy for teams to report safety concerns.
Number 8. All employees support risk mitigation.
A positive culture of safety in the workplace rewards employees for ceasing work that may be unsafe, even if it means losing materials or missing a deadline. Safety culture encourages on-site employees to be aware of, identify and address hazards as soon as they can to avoid potential risks. Praising employees who identify and apply risk mitigation strategies is also an important trait of positive safety cultures, as this can help on-site employees feel more comfortable taking control in such a situation.
Number 9. Employees attend regular training.
Regular safety training is an effective approach to educating new employees and reiterating the importance of upholding a safe work environment. Training sessions can be unique to the workplace or more general, like classes about chemical reactions or electrical conductors. One of the best ways to improve attitudes toward safety is by making training accessible for all employees. This can include holding training after work or on weekends or offering paid training opportunities so employees can attend training during work hours.
Number 10. Safety procedures are accessible.
Successful safety culture in the workplace requires clearly defined and easily accessible safety procedures. Safety documents can be unique for each workplace, however, many of these documents are advantageous to have on a worksite. Consider creating multiple copies of important safety documents and keep them in areas where employees can access them easily.
Number 11. Employee surveys show positive results.
Another characteristic of positive safety culture is employee satisfaction. Employees with positive attitudes toward their workplace’s safety culture often feel more comfortable and safe working for their organizations. Employee surveys related to safety culture can also provide results that give management an opportunity to discuss strategies for boosting employee satisfaction and engagement.
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