The terms “safety culture” and “safety program” are often used interchangeably. Your company should have a safety program to help meet OSHA requirements and to ensure a basic level of safety in the workplace, but you may not have a safety culture… yet. A safety culture is a company-wide commitment to safety for everyone in everything that they do, and it doesn’t stop at the bare minimum. It takes time and dedication to create this kind of environment.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, five of the major benefits of a strong workplace safety culture are
Few at-risk behaviors
Low incident rates
Low worker turnover
To get started creating a safety culture and witnessing these benefits, follow these five easy steps:
1. Identify Issues
Think about what it was that sent you looking into creating a safety culture in the first place. There must be some shortcomings when it comes to safety in your workplace. Start with those, and take note of any other safety concerns that you notice along the way. Even if you think your safety program has got you pretty well covered, there’s always room for improvement. Ask yourself what could be better.
2. Set Goals
Once you’ve identified some problem areas, you can work out what your goals are for your new safety culture. What do you hope to accomplish? Keep in mind that the best goals are realistic and measurable. It will be tough to track progress toward a goal if you can’t provide measurable evidence for it. If you reach your goals easily, set new ones to strive for.
3. Create a Plan
After you set your goals, you’ll need a plan to reach them. The whole point of setting goals is to make an effort to achieve them, right? So how are you going to do that? Create a plan—better yet, create multiple plans—that will help you to progress and head toward your goals. Multiple plans are great if you’re just starting out because you can experiment and find out what works best.
4. Enforce Accountability
Once you come up with a plan, it’s time to execute. In order to keep the ball rolling in the right direction, you’ll need to find a way to hold everyone accountable. After all, everyone has a responsibility within a safety culture. You need everyone following the same plan and working toward the same goals. Make sure everyone stays on the same page there in order to ensure the success of your safety culture.
5. Make Adjustments
Creating a few simple steps on paper may seem easy enough, but let’s face it: creating an entire workplace culture that affects attitudes and behaviors is not an easy task. You’ll make mistakes, and you’ll start to learn what does and doesn’t work for your team. When you encounter a snag, make adjustments. If you’re not reaching your goals, maybe you need to re-evaluate your goals or maybe you need to change up your plan a little.
Every single workplace is unique, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution for safety. That’s why you have to create the culture for your own team. We can help you get started creating a safety culture with some helpful tips and common best practices, but ultimately it’s up to you to know your team and to set an example in the workplace.