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Positive Safety culture – Not for the faint hearted

Most employers put “safety” forward as the face of the company to get tenders or jobs. Yet their Management is not leading employees into a positive safety culture or one of compliance. The same management wants employees to excel in safety but the failure to empower that safety culture lies on the shoulders of management itself.

Examples of well established safety behaviors

Management communicates their safety beliefs and values, challenges safety issues, shows visible leadership and commitment and has a positive attitude towards safety. They generate trust, act with openness and transparency and is actively engaged in safety matters.

Beliefs, values, attitude and leadership do not only shape employee behavior, but also contribute towards organizational visions, goals and success. It is clear that safety behavior of employees reflects the safety culture of an organization and can be seen in their work activities and procedures. It is therefore essential for an organisation to develop a positive safety culture.

As soon as employees accepts responsibility for their own safety and that of others, they will be committed to share and support the management commitment towards occupational health and safety. Employees will be motivated to act and behave in a safe manner and will be more likely to co-operate with safety requirements.

A safety culture is not about statistics

Are you sending the wrong message?

The business objective of a positive safety culture is to change behavior in order to promote a culture of shared values, justice, fairness and agreement.  Organization using Behaviour Based Safety as a management tool in their compliance system may not be using this BBS tool in the right way or they are using it to identify workers doing the wrong things. They only record the wrong-doing and fail to recognise positive behavior. One is forced to ask if people who are conducting BBS, are trained?  Do they understand the aim of BBS as a cost-effective way of changing behavior and monitoring target behaviors of employees? It also has the advantage of encouraging commitment on the part of employees and the employer to achieving safety goals.

Advantages of BBS programs

An effective safety culture in an organization has the following advantages:

  • There is commitment from management to provide and maintain a safe working environment
  • A strong, positive safety culture is an organizational investment and is not seen as a financial burden
  • Ongoing development of, and improvement in, safety at all levels of the organization.
  • Hazard identification, prevention and developing effective control measures are promoted
  • Positive communication of safety issues is encouraged.