Safety Culture: Why It’s Important, and How to Create OneNovember 12, 2019
All businesses like to say they are safe. Fortunately, we live in a country where safety is the law. There are many policies and training requirements in place to protect the basic safety of employees in the workplace. However, following minimum standards and having a safety culture are two very different things. Having a safety culture is especially important when working in the field of construction. A safety culture is what ensures all staff are aware of potential dangers and treat safety as a priority. Having a safety culture involves every player on your team taking all necessary measures to ensure safety in the workplace.
How to Create a Safety Culture
There are several factors that contribute to a safety culture, and they all play an important role. It’s difficult to truly achieve a culture of safety if any of these components is lacking, so it’s important to take a holistic approach to safety. When looking to nurture a safety culture within your own organization, consider the following:
Proper training is a huge part of the development of a safety culture. A strong training program and curriculum should first be implemented. As part of your onboarding process, it will be the first clue to new hires that safety is a priority for your organization. This training program should cover all possible dangers of the job, and tips for how to avoid them. Hold your Managers accountable for ensuring their employees are well-trained and ready to complete their tasks safety.
Along with the regular Health & Safety checks, businesses need to “check in” on their employees. Conduct regular pulse checks, either via meetings or spot checks, to ensure that policies are understood and followed. Re-training may be necessary in some cases, especially as policies change or if there there is a rise in a certain type of incident. As well, encourage and even reward employees for calling out anything unsafe. Creating a culture where everyone is aware of and accountable for your safety procedures will help with enforcement and self-regulation. This is what keeps employees safe even when Managers are not present.
The best way to nurture a safety culture is by ensuring your employees are comfortable enough to report Heath & Safety concerns at every level. In practice, that may not always mean your field employees are speaking directly to the President of the company. However, it’s important for employees to know that if they have a safety-related concern, it will make its way up the ladder to the people who need to hear it.
Top-down communication is also important. Leaders must set an example by making safety a priority in everything that they do. Safety should form a part of their day-to-day language, so it is understood that everyone contributes to a safety culture – regardless of role. The onus of following safety procedures often falls on the front-line employees, which can create a rift between field staff and Managers. By frequently communicating corporate safety objectives, safety-related performance, and policies, leaders can relay the message that “we’re all in this together”.
It’s worth highlighting that policies should be frequently reiterated. A policy that is announced once and then rarely revisited or enforced becomes a policy that is forgotten. Consistency and repetition are key!
Reporting workplace injuries is a standard procedure for most organizations. Take it a step further by ensuring your reports are detailed enough to know exactly what happened and – more importantly – why it happened. Learn from any mistakes that have been made, and implement a solution to ensure those mistakes never happen again. That could include a new standard operating procedure, or simply revisiting training. Reporting is also crucial in predicting the financial resources you may require for new policies and initiatives.
Safety Cultures in Action
At Modu-Loc, one of our seven core values is Safety & Accountability. We trust our employees to conduct their jobs safely, and to report any issues that arise. Creating a culture of safety starts with our training and education. We continuously monitor and maintain our safety culture by relying on our Joint Health and Safety Committees (JHSC) to perform regular inspections. They also act as a point of contact for any safety issues within each depot. Field staff, who are more likely to be exposed to potential hazards on the job, hold weekly safety meetings.
Communication has been instrumental in establishing our safety culture. Through training, biweekly toolbox meetings, and quarterly Health & Safety reports, we make sure our employees are aware of potential risks and promote the importance of safety in their everyday tasks. This is what works for Modu-Loc, but your company may want to utilise other creative ways to develop your safety culture.
Primoris, a gold winner in the oil and gas category of the Safest Employer awards, implemented a unique system into their safety culture. Each month, every site uses a scorecard to measure their Health & Safety efforts against the company’s safety expectations. This scorecard will show which sites are not meeting expectations. It provides the ability to deploy additional safety materials and training exactly where needed. This system allows all levels of employees to stay focused on their goal of safety. The scorecard has become a regular part of their safety culture.
Every company is able to create the safety culture that best suits them. Whether your approach consists of a complete system, or a new tool that helps the way your company keeps safety top-of-mind, the benefits of a safety culture remain the same. Your safety culture is what ensures every worker returns home to their families at the end of the day.
Threads of Life
Threads of Life is an organisation that raises awareness about workplace tragedies, and supports the families affected by them. Modu-Loc is a national sponsor of Threads of Life. Together, we are working to reduce workplace incidents through education and prevention. Threads of Life has various resources available to help you with your safety culture initiatives. To access their resources or to learn more about Threads of Life and how you can help, please visit threadsoflife.ca/.
We’re here to answer any questions you may have.