Enhance your HSE culture and leadership
Safety Culture is more than just shared knowledge and goals. It’s about creating different way of viewing and valuing safety, which is essential for a workplace to be successful.
A positive HSE culture gives you the reassurance that your workplace safety is consistent, replicable, and sustainable. It’s increasingly acknowledged by business leaders that a safety culture is a must-have. It’s beneficial to employees, the business, and your reputation. It improves productivity and profitability, and boosts morale. But let’s look at how we can take it a step further.
Here’s what you don’t want to do with your business’ safety culture. Create one; tell the team; and then tick it off your list as ‘done’, and leave it there. A safety culture, like any culture, is almost a living thing. It needs care and attention to thrive and grow. So how do you achieve that? How do you take your safety culture to the next level?
First, you need to embed your safety culture across all levels. There shouldn’t be even one employee in your team who isn’t fully committed to it. Leaders need to set the example, adopting a positive attitude towards health and safety, walking the walk, and making a real difference in the active uptake of your safety culture.
One case study – involving a European manufacturer – revealed employees shockingly were tolerant of risk. Operators said that 100 percent safety was impossible; risk was just “part of the job”. A maintenance operator explained that he sustained cuts and bruises on the job regularly, but didn’t report them because he considered them normal.
A review of the company’s safety culture showed that employees perceived safety as the responsibility of management. They felt that they should just stick to their specific duties, without being concerned with safety: an attitude that led to missed opportunities for improvement, and increased exposure to injury.
To address the situation, the company developed a safety-focused performance management system. Workers were rewarded for engaging in safe behaviours, and punished for taking risks that could lead to accidents. The company’s founder developed a system that required all accident sites to be documented and all near misses noted. The company believed that this made accidents “public” – and therefore less acceptable. In fact, less “normal”.
The number of incidents and injuries decreased significantly, while overall productivity remained high. Employees now view safety as an important component of their role, and the company showed its commitment to building a strong safety culture by investing heavily in new technology and training programs.
A great success story. But as we’ve noted, leaders largely either ignore safety culture, or neglect it after implementation. It’s a challenging undertaking for many. Is it worth it?
An enhanced safety culture brings with it a more productive business. Successful businesses with a thriving safety culture focus more on the overall goals, rather than only on compliance with procedures. Compliance is crucial, but it’s not the only target of health and safety. And safety is not the responsibility of one department, but rather part of the inter-connected aims of the organization, because the culture recognizes it as a vital component of success in all areas of operation.
Organizations with enhanced safety cultures suffer far less from the repercussions of under-reporting incidents. Because under-reporting is often due to fear of reprisals, a genuinely positive safety culture is the most effective way to tackle this issue. An enhanced safety culture brings with it a workplace environment that promotes open communication and encourages workers to report potential hazards without fear of repercussions.
And finally, mature safety cultures regularly see increased efficiency. Because every employee is enabled and encouraged to speak out, address issues, and strive for safety excellence, there is more likely to be comprehensive and valuable training, proper use of resources, decreased turnover and injury leave – in short, benefits to every area of your business, its profitability, and its future growth.
As dedicated advocates of safety culture – its establishment and its enhancement – Procyon is the partner of choice when you’re thinking of taking the next steps. We work with our clients to turn their organisations into learning centres, to build sustainable safety cultures, and to empower their teams to achieve operational excellence. Contact us today to find out how we can help you develop a safety culture that works for your business.