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Building a Safety Culture in the Workplace in 5 Steps

Building a safety culture that is active and engaged brings numerous benefits for any organization. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), companies with robust safety cultures experience up to 35% fewer recordable safety accidents.

Also, safety culture contributes to higher employee satisfaction and efficiency, leading to greater commitment and less turnover.

Here are the five steps – from training to using workplace safety software – we suggest you follow to ensure your workplace is safe and resilient.

5 Steps to Implementation

A safety culture is more than merely having safety documents and policies on paper.

Culture creation requires effort, resources and practical adoption of an investment mindset. And it takes time.

While implementing a few adjustments here and there is good on its own, it’s not enough for significant and noticeable change.

If you want to change your company’s attitude to safety, you must commit to complex and tough policy overhaul and integration. And this development requires a top-down approach and maintenance of five core practices.

1. Leadership Commitment and Clear Communication

When building a safety culture, leadership is the cornerstone, the first stone set in the foundation of all safety protocols and policies.

Without commitment from executives, employees are less likely to adhere to safety protocols or take the company’s new safety stance seriously.

Leaders must show commitment to improving safety in the workplace through action and participation: engage in safety initiatives, attend safety walk-throughs, participate in incident investigations and run toolbox talks

Top executives should also allocate time to make appearances at safety meetings and events.

Leaders must communicate safety policies and practices effectively. They must ensure that policies are written well, accessible, and regularly updated. Language should be unambiguous, able to be understood by all workers. Having it all within one system would also be helpful.

Read more: Paper vs. digital: why it’s more secure to manage your safety documentation with software

Company leadership should open communication channels and establish a coherent system for safety reporting. Communication channels should include direct lines to supervisors, anonymous reporting lines, or mobile app reporting.

Multiple channels address different communication styles of workers and their comfort levels when reporting, helping to eliminate fears of retribution or retaliation.Commitment from the top is essential when building a safety culture because it reinforces the importance of safety. The support of leadership also contributes to higher levels of trust throughout the organization and encourages active participation from workers.

2. Employee Involvement and Empowerment

Employees are critical to any business operation, and their commitment and adherence to safety policies are the keys to creating a safety culture that lasts. To foster a safe work environment where its workers want to participate in safety practices, the organization must empower them.

Employees’ knowledge of daily job challenges and potential hazards is invaluable for creating practical and effective safety standards. Company leadership should actively solicit feedback and input from employees. They should include frontline workers in:

  • Incident investigations
  • Hazard assessments
  • Safety procedure developments

You can secure feedback in town-hall-style meetings or regular surveys. Employers can also make reporting and resolution processes more accessible and more succinct. For example, streamlining incident report forms or near-miss reports with automated systems like Fluix can be a good start.

Establish a safety committee with rotating or elected employee representatives from various departments. The presence of workers on an integral board can bolster employee involvement and adoption of safety initiatives by the board.

Involving and empowering workers gives them a sense of ownership over safety policy and a say in safety culture. Such feelings encourage vigilance and can further facilitate safety communication and safe practices.

3. Comprehensive Training and Education

Building a safety culture requires adopting safety training models and education strategies. Training and education are about more than meeting basic compliance and minimum regulatory standards. 

Workers need a level of engagement that translates to real-world practices. Training should continue from initial onboarding and throughout employment, ensuring continued development. 

The training should include:

  • Job-specific safety instructions
  • Hazard identification in work areas
  • Emergency procedures
  • Regular refresher training

As your organization prepares elements of training, look to the concept of the safety pyramid, also known as Bird’s Triangle or Heinrich’s Triangle. The pyramid illustrates the relationship between workplace incidents, from near misses to severe injuries or fatalities. Companies can use the pyramid to define the metrics that guide safety protocols. 

Note that some industries may not match the ratios laid out in the pyramid and that this tool is not the only factor for assessing or defining safety practices. 

Whatever tools you use to create safety policies, comprehensive training equips your employees with the knowledge and skills necessary to follow them and fosters a culture of prevention.

Read more: How Siemens Gamesa, a leading wind service provider, reduces the training completion time using digital checklists

4. Proactive Incident Investigation and Prevention

When building a safety culture, you must realize safety policies and practices do not eliminate the risks of accidents, incidents, or injuries; they reduce them. A company still needs to conduct proactive inquiries into incident investigations. Being proactive means going beyond assigning blame and shifting focus to future prevention.

Thorough investigations should examine major injuries, minor incidents, and near misses. Every event is a lesson about the potential weaknesses of your current safety systems. You can use methods like root cause analysis to identify the factors contributing to an incident rather than focusing on the fault of individual workers.

Investigations should look beyond the immediate cause to refer to the chain of events or underlying condition instead. For example, investigators should look for:

  • Equipment or tool failure
  • Gaps in training or existing procedures
  • High workloads, time pressures, and distractions
  • Misaligned incentives that may motivate risky practices

Investigations must include employees in the process, produce transparent communications about findings, and provide actionable prevention suggestions. The process should go beyond reporting to strive to contribute to and improve safety culture in the workplace.

5. Continuous Improvement and Celebration

Part of developing a safety culture is ongoing improvement. To ensure compliance with safety initiatives, you must commit to regularly tracking safety metrics. The metrics should include:

  • Incident rates (total, minor, severe)
  • Near-miss reporting rate
  • Training completion
  • Speed of hazard resolution

Use the trends in the data to pinpoint areas of future focus and current successes. Don’t forget to celebrate victories by recognizing milestones, highlighting the contributions of team members and the ways following safety policies directly contribute to company success.

Building a Safety Culture With Fluix

Fluix is a cloud-based platform specializing in paperless workflows, data collection, and automation. Our system can integrate with your existing tools to increase visibility into the broader impact of safety measures on organization-wide operations. When building a safety culture, Fluix can help by streamlining reporting and paperless forms, providing mobile accessibility, and offering data-driven insights through robust tracking and reporting of safety metrics.

When building a safety culture, Fluix can help by streamlining reporting and paperless forms, providing mobile accessibility, and offering data-driven insights through robust tracking and reporting of safety metrics.

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