Safety culture has been a hot topic for a while now, and its popularity is ever-increasing, but what exactly is it, how does it affect us, and how can we manage it to our advantage?
Safety culture refers to the values, attitudes, perceptions, and behavior held by individuals and all factions within the organization. It is the overall mentality surrounding safety and its application within the work environment. Thus, a safety culture defines the pervasive attitude and commitment toward safety and the correct safety management at an organizational level. It acts as a base on which an organization can build its safety activities. In the end, all safety development measures are useless if the basis is weak, and safety will not develop in a positive direction. So, a safety culture is a vital part of a business, but what is the best way forward?
Every organization has a safety culture, and all cultures vary based on certain factors. When raising and bettering safety levels, an organization should consider three factors: the environment, used technology and systems, and above all people, within the organization. These factors together determine the conclusive safety level and the most optimal development measures. Correct operating models, quality protective equipment, and practical instructions go a long way in developing safety. However, it is people in the end that choose how they utilize technology and consider their environment. The organization’s prevailing safety culture and an individual’s perception of safety affect this decision, and if the culture is poor, this will often reflect on overall safety levels. Therefore, understanding and managing safety culture is very critical in today’s work environment.
Safety cultures can vary significantly between different locations, departments, people, and factions, and human centricity has become paramount in managing a safety culture and understanding its underlying nature. Successful management involves all staff and creates an organization-wide understanding of safety operations and activities because a safety culture is far more than just figures, averages, and quantities. A safety culture tells the extent of participation in safety activities and clarifies the quality of the activities. If two people from the entire unit make all the safety-related observations, the safety culture is not on an optimal level. And sooner or later, this also negatively reflects on the figures. Genuine and active involvement in safety activities and their development leads to a strong and healthy safety culture and, ultimately, better safety numbers. How can we consider all staff and their experience and attitude towards safety?
Surveying the current state of a safety culture enables the planning, staff involvement, and implementation of fitting development measures. A survey will clarify the strengths and weaknesses and attitudes and activities within the organization’s safety culture. Active measurement of a safety culture is an important part of a successful organization’s safety management, and its importance is especially emphasized as safety indicators, such as accident rates, fall closer to zero. The diversity and nature of a safety culture must be considered when measuring safety culture. A systemic understanding of safety is significant in planning and creating effective development measures utilized by all.
Thus, safety consists of several parts, and we are in the middle of it all, and many people responsible for safety have a challenge finding the best investment areas that will achieve the best possible results. A safety culture is paramount to consider, understand, and measure so that a company can improve its safety and get toward zero accidents. The level of safety improves exponentially if every employee can perform well in their work, safety is considered a genuinely important part of the job and its ultimate impact as part of the job is understood. Fortunately, therefore, safety cultures are something we can influence and develop together.
If you would like to hear more about how you can measure and develop the safety culture in your organization, please contact us. We at Kiwa, strive to make your safety better and more efficient.