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April 13, 2023

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Driving a positive safety culture starts from within

Changing an organisation’s safety culture can be a daunting prospect. Even if the reason behind the change can’t be underestimated, there are inevitable challenges facing health and safety leaders. With changing health and safety legislation, there’s never been a more important time for companies to make their safety culture a priority. There’s a moral, legal and economic imperative to do the right thing.

Where to begin? It’s essential to get colleagues across the organisation onboard. After all, without their support and compliance, it’s impossible to drive and maintain a positive safety culture.

Download this whitepaper to get advice on how to recognise the signs of a poor safety culture, as well as offer practical tips and strategies to help you build a strong safety culture within your organisation. 

Many people instinctively fear change in the workplace. Staff may worry about losing their role or experiencing a change in responsibilities. These fears can be allayed by clear communication.

Clear communication is essential, but just as important is engagement. Involving colleagues and reaffirming their support aids the shift to a stronger culture. By getting staff onboard, everyone

becomes accountable and sees health and safety as part of their job.

Driving this culture goes much further than safety alone. Making the connection between a positive safety culture and company’s bottom line is vital.

The moral, legal and economic why

To explore and communicate the ‘why’, consider and communicate the moral, legal and economic imperatives.

From a moral perspective, people are the most important asset to any organisation. Their wellbeing must come above a company’s profitability. All organisations should feel morally responsible for their workforce, and anybody affected by the work activity they’re undertaking.

It’s not just a moral imperative but it’s also legally enforceable. Taking reasonable care of people at work is reflected in both common and statute law, so it’s criminally enforceable. Colleagues in operational roles may not be aware about legal obligations, but senior leaders should be, and it’s worth reminding them. Custodial sentencing, fines and enforcement notices could all be unwelcome consequences, which could cause significant reputational damage and even lead to the demise of a company.

All this contributes to the economic reasons to drive a culture change. Put simply, failure to prioritise health and safety directly hits a company’s bottom line. Recent statistics from the Health and Safety Executive found that an eye-watering 36.8 million working days were lost to work-related ill-health and non-fatal injuries in 2021/22, totalling £18.8 billion. Consideration must be given to the likely reputational damage and that HSE fines are no longer fixed as they are now linked to turnover. It all hits’ businesses hard, where it hurts.

Internal factors

Getting leadership onboard is critical. Their commitment needs to cascade down the organisation and they must model the behaviour they want to see. Ultimately, every activity across the company should demonstrate a positive safety culture. If health and safety has taken a backseat in a quest to achieve unrealistic profitability targets, leaders must urgently address this.

Additionally, companies need to ensure their people have the knowledge and skills required to stay safe on a job, through regular training and education. Trade unions, where they exist in organisations, have a part to play. They can advocate for safe working practices, procedures and policies and work with employers to help identify hazards and mitigate risks.

External factors

External legislation sets expectations for acceptable behaviour and creates a framework for accountability. It also helps foster a culture of continuous improvement. Enforcement agencies can also influence safety culture by raising the awareness of safety issues and promoting best working practices.

Stakeholders hold a lot of power and influence, so are great advocates to help shape an organisation’s health and safety culture.

7 quick steps to positive safety culture

  1. Lead by example. Leaders should demonstrate their commitment to safety by following safe work practices, using PPE and addressing safety concerns promptly.
  2. Provide safety training. Everyone needs regular training on safe work practices, hazard identification, and risk assessments.
  3. Get everyone onboard. Involve colleagues in the development and implementation of safety policies and procedures.
  4. Encourage reporting. Employees must feel empowered to report any safety concerns, incidents or near misses.
  5. Investigate incidents. Identify the root cause and ensure findings are reported back to the reporter and employees.
  6. Acknowledge safe behaviour. Recognise and reward employees for safe behaviour to reinforce standards.
  7. Continuously monitor and improve. Use key performance indicators to inform the efficacy of your safety strategy, performance and culture.

Empowering your people

Traditionally, health and safety professionals use spreadsheets, paper records, or external systems with no data integration to record, track, and measure safety performance in an organisation. Using a health and safety platform with intuitive dashboards and mobile technology like Notify can help leaders and safety professionals accurately and efficiently track, measure and improve workforce safety across multiple sites and countries.

With Notify you can digitalise your incident reporting, audits, checklists and inspections, risk assessments and method statements to empower your workforce and build a positive and long-lasting safety culture.

Try Notify for free

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