How to Promote a Culture of Health and Safety in the Workplace

Home ADVICE & GUIDANCE How to Promote a Culture of Health and Safety in the Workplace

As the person responsible for your organisation’s safety culture, would you be able to show evidence that you promote a culture of Health and Safety in the workplace?

Investigations into Zeebrugge Ferry and King’s Cross Underground found that these disasters were an accident waiting to happen due to the unrecognised poor workplace safety culture and safety behaviours.

A culture is something that is shared, taught or copied. In a business setting, acceptance or tolerance to risks and how hazards get controlled. It includes how you deal with accidents and near misses and is commonly known as a health and safety culture in the workplace.

The success of your Health and Safety culture management system hinges on your employees’ attitudes and behaviour regarding health and safety practices in the work environment, which they would consider the norm. The norm is shared values and beliefs resulting from the organisation’s management structure, process and current safety practices.

A holistic Approach To Promoting A Positive Health And Safety Culture In The Workplace

Your working practices should all come together with successful Risk Management. IOSH identify that the three main elements of a positive health and safety culture are the working environment, systems and procedures, and the people in the organisation.

What steps to take for improving health and safety culture in the workplace

What steps to take for improving health and safety culture in the workplace

Influencing health and safety culture in a business doesn’t happen overnight, and improving safety with instant results; is a fundamental change in a company culture that requires time, which should be considered when planning your next steps. Remember that what might work for one company may not work for you in achieving a positive safety culture. With this in mind, establishing what is happening in your organisation is the first step. The first step would be to analyse your accident book and reports of near misses or safety incidents. It will identify any poor safety performance, unsafe attitudes and possibly any poor health and safety culture towards safety measures.

What do I need to consider when reviewing organisational health and safety culture?

Participation of the workforce is vital, with the senior management team showing positive attitudes and leadership commitment to behaviour change slowly and efficiently and promoting safety culture. Once you have the workforce on board, you need to consider what suitable arrangements need to be implemented to ensure that your organisational health and safety culture can be managed risk through the holistic approach:

  • Achieve a mutual trust between senior management and the workforce;
  • Implement regular audits, review reports and supply employee questionnaires so you can start to build a picture of the business and focus your resources on the central issues to identify any safety issues and promote a positive health and safety culture. Key areas that you may want to review are:
    • Leadership – ensuring management is visible and in close contact with the workforce
    • Regular attendance to Health and Safety culture training
    • Monitoring employees’ safety concerns towards the organisation through employee forums of a confidential post review
    • Ensure that employees know what their requirements are for improving health and safety culture.
    • Review employees’ visible awareness of Health and Safety measures and issues for themselves and others
  • Clearly understand what is acceptable and unacceptable regarding reckless behaviour that creates a poor health and safety culture.
  • Look at implementing your reporting system that doesn’t focus on a blame culture but instead encourages or rewards coming forward and reporting safety concerns.
  • Invest in the apparent influential people within the workforce. These people are essential for communication between management and the workforce and for improving and promoting a positive health and safety culture.
  • Ensure that the standard safe working procedures you adopt are in compliance with the law and best practices.

Once you have implemented your own way of identifying a health safety culture, consider implementing the Plan-Do-Check-Act Framework, which will assist you in developing a scheme for continued monitoring and progress.

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Elena Boura