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Safety is one of the important areas of life that must not be taken with levity. A blink of a careless attitude can cause temporal or permanent damage. While we know the dangers of not abiding by simple safety rules, we still have records of casualties of accidents. We are subjected to making mistakes due to some conditions that are above us as humans. For instance, if someone is tired or stressed, they can easily make mistakes. Also, if a person is sick or unhappy, he or she can make mistakes.
It is not only important to abide by simple rules of safety, but building a sustainable safety culture is key.
What is a sustainable safety culture?
Sustainable culture is a set of ideas and patterns of knowledge, belief, behavior, and action that depends on the capacity to learn and transmit knowledge. Rules are meant to be broken and that is why we need a sustainable culture. A sustainable safety culture represents the attitudes and behaviors of business owners and their employees’ approach to safety and perception of risk. It also means an organization’s beliefs on responding and controlling risk and engagement in activities that facilitate a safety culture.
The chances and fatality in businesses are different. Each business with its risks and different approaches to addressing them. The safety culture that factory workers will develop will be different from what office workers will do. Even in professional practices, medical doctors have a safety culture that is different from that of engineers. A successful sustainability culture connects everyone in the company focused on a common safety goal to measurably reduce accidents and incidents.
A behavioral psychologist, E Scott Geller defined total safety culture as an attitude where everyone feels responsible for the safety and pursues it daily. The safety of one person is the safety of all; one careless person could lead to damage to many lives and properties. A positive sustainable safety culture makes everyone buy into the safety idea to keep everyone safe. Starting and maintaining an excellent safety culture takes discipline, dedication, investment, and time. It doesn’t just happen; it takes involving the entire organization and welcoming and entertaining individual contributions.
Safety culture is not successful until it becomes personal and cultural. Each person must see it as an obligation to fulfill.
Importance of sustainable safety culture
It ensures safety and longevity
All things being equal, a successful sustainable safety culture ensures the safety and longevity of employees and equipment. When your facility is properly managed, it helps prolong the life span of your equipment. Not only does it affect the machines but also the employees that operate them. Constant repairs of machines can make them wear quickly.
It helps to maximize profit
You do not have to spend money on repairs or replacements. Focusing on the safety of lives and properties can save you from spending on repairs. Money meant to invest in other areas will not be spent on paying the hospital bills of employees. Accidents will result in spending money to treat injuries. The lesser accidents you have, the more money you have as a profit or investment.
It builds employee morale
Working in a safe cultured environment builds morale. Employees would surely notice if an organization is built around safety. When an employee feels valued and cared for, it changes his or her outlook on the organization. The lesser accidents an organization have, the more confident their staffs become. A series of reoccurring accidents will lead to low turnover. Merely looking at it, when accidents happen, work will stop. With a safety culture in place, you can easily hire and retain talents. No matter the money and incentives that you are offering, employees will consider their safety first.
It improves customer confidence
It is just the employees or the stakeholders that care about an organization’s safety. Customers too care about an organization’s safety. They want to know that the products and services you are offering are safe and also the company they do business with is safe. When accidents at your organization happen more often, it makes you lose customers. Apart from that, your product and services are not seen as legitimate.
How to set up an excellent sustainable safety culture
Involve all the levels of management
The issue of safety is the issue of all and it starts from the top. You lead by example; so that people will not have any excuse for not doing the right thing. The management team is the first to be involved and make safety a priority. Everyone in the management team and leadership roles should be educated and passionate about safety. The management can then work with the supervisors and all the employees to establish a sustainable safety culture. Employees are more likely to follow what their leaders are doing.
Constantly remind all the workers about safety
Safety culture cannot be overemphasized; constantly remind yourself and all the workers about the safety culture. Start each day with reminders and evaluate the progress in staff meetings. Reiterating rules and regulation is not enough, tell them why safety is important. You can change the employee’s negative attitude towards safety by reminding them of the consequences of any negligence. Discourage fast work and encourage safe work. Especially those working in factories where big types of machinery are being used. You can also ask them questions occasionally to refresh their memories.
Organize safety training
Organize safety training and programs for your employees and management. We cannot stop learning, growing, and improving. Provide them with frequent training sessions and seminars to expose them to modern safety cultures. There could be better ways of doing things to avoid accidents or near-miss incidents. Organizing safety training can help to challenge complacency; it shows that the company cares about safety. It also helps to build a good safety culture, you become a part of what you see and learn.
Upgrade your devices and skills set
Your devices might be outdated and your employees lacking in some necessary skills. You can make available professional training opportunities for your staff. Some companies teach about home and office safety and they offer certificates of proficiency. This could help improve your workers’ knowledge and create a sustainable safety culture. Make sure necessary outdated devices are replaced and safety gadgets are in place. Some offices do not have fire extinguishers in necessary places nor do they have first aid boxes.
Those offices that have fire extinguishers are not hoping for a fire outbreak but are prepared just in case. First aid boxes could be needed in case of minor injuries. Fix all open wires and connections that can cause an accident.
Common mistakes with safety cultures
Lack of flexibility
To create an effective sustainable safety culture, you need to create and follow through with actionable plans with measurable goals. Unfortunately, your plan might meet some difficulties which would need you to be flexible. This is where some companies make mistakes. Many companies are not flexible in their plan for a safety culture. How do they survive on days when things are not going as planned? This is where flexibility comes in. Adjusting to different situations as they come to achieve excellence.
Lack of transparency
Building a long-lasting relationship and culture requires trust. Trust is very important, especially between employers and their employees. If the management is not honest and straightforward with the safety-building process, the employees might not buy into it. Be open as long as the process will take and make open the plans and steps to take.
Not focusing on behaviors
Other than compliance to culture, an individual’s behavior also plays important role in culture building. When a company uses only compliance for safety, it ignores the way the employees behave. This plays a vital role in the causing and preventing of accidents.
Starting from the complex
Another mistake that can hinder a sustainable safety culture is starting from complex things. To build a lasting safety culture, you have to start from the simplest ones. When a company introduces complex ideas, only a few will be able to catch up. Building a sustainable safety culture requires time, so start from the simple habits and ideas that people are likely to know and adjust to easily.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How can you measure the success of your safety culture? Measuring your safety culture is very good and there are simple ways to do that. They include Surveys, communication, listening, involvement, and asking questions.
2. Why is repair and treatment more expensive than safety? Safety cultures help to put necessary things in place but repairs and treatment make you spend on avoidable loss. Safety culture is an investment to the company while repairs and treatment are a disadvantage.
3. What are the things accidents can cause? Accidents can lead to legal charges against an organization, loss of lives and properties, starting all over again, repair or replacement of tools and machinery, etc.
Finally, a sustainable safety culture goes beyond preaching safety first. It requires adopting and implementing a thorough safety infrastructure. To improve your organization’s safety culture, you can meet with experts who will put you through. You can also join us at The Black Sheep Community to answer your questions.