6 best practices for a positive health and safety culture
Behaviour-based safety is often perceived as a framework that only large organisations can implement with dedicated resources to manage the programme. However, this perception is incorrect and by changing your approach to on-the-job training, observing tasks, and correcting simple non-conformances, you will shape a positive and sustainable health and safety culture.
The fact that approximately 90% of incidents can be attributed to human failure demonstrates the importance of the management approach to health and safety compliance.
This can be seen in the attitude and behavior of an organisation’s employees towards a health and safety management system. A simple example would be the reporting of incidents such as near misses and at-risk behaviour or the willingness to co-operate with management in ensuring a safe and healthy working environment.
As an organisation, it is worth asking the following question:
- Are you implementing occupational health & safety for the sake of compliance or do you care about the wellbeing of your staff and your operations?
If the answer is “for the sake of compliance” your safety culture is most probably not where it should be and your employees will behave in a manner that’s aligned to this attitude and approach.
An attitude of caring that is driven by top management, along with providing employees with the necessary skills and tools to operate safely and healthily, further drives a culture of ownership and participation across an organisation and ultimately translates to fewer unwanted incidents.
We have worked with multiple companies over the years and the following steps are what we believe to be best practice:
Set clear goals and objectives- These goals and objectives should align with the health & safety management programme and can be incorporated into the Health & Safety Policy.
Improve health and safety communication internally and ensure employees have access to the health and safety policies and procedures. Holding regular safety talks and getting the employees involved
Upskill and train employees on key health and safety aspects within the organisation. This builds trust and shows the company’s commitment to health and safety management. If workers are not committed to the process then the overall culture will be negatively impacted.
Create a process of recognition and reward, where employees can receive incentives for their contribution to the health and safety culture. This may be linked to the reporting of near misses or providing suggestions on removing workplace hazards.
Monitor the success of the programme by tracking incidents. As the culture improves, so the number of reported incidents may increase as employees become more aware of the importance of reporting incidents and no longer fear any repercussions. To this end, it is important to have a “no-blame culture” where there is an open platform to learn and engage with employees.
Management has to play a critical role in the underlying health and safety culture within a company. Management needs to lead by example, as currently, there are too many examples of managers not following basic health and safety policies and procedures and yet expect the employees to comply. This destroys the culture and ultimately leads to unwanted and costly injuries.