Author Bio ▼

Professor Tim Marsh PhD, MSc, CFIOSH, CPsychol, SFIIRSM is professor at Plymouth University. He is considered a world authority on the subject of behavioural safety, safety leadership and organisational culture.

As well as many of the world’s most recognisable industrial names, Tim has worked with the European Space Agency, the BBC, Sky TV and the National Theatre, and has chaired more than two dozen conferences on behavioural safety in the UK.  He has written three books including Affective Safety Management, Talking Safety and Total Safety Culture.


November 19, 2018

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Safety Talks

Video: Four steps to a better safety culture – SHP Safety Talks with Tim Marsh

Revisit the opening video in SHP’s Safety Talks series as it passes the milestone of 10,000 views.

In the first video Professor Tim Marsh, Honorary Professor, Plymouth University and Managing Director at Anker & Marsh Safety, explains the four steps to a better safety culture.

Safety culture

Tim explains the four steps towards a safety organisational culture as:

  1. Compliance (though that has diminishing returns)
  2. Mindful safety
  3. Transformational leadership
  4. Employee engagement

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Nice. Good Job. Congratulations on the Professorship


Many thanks for the kind comments Dom (and to all below). It’s really encouraging to read that Heather and Mark at UBM were right and that these short conversation starting pieces are indeed a useful medium. I can only hope readers enjoy what were thought were the ‘interesting’ ones towards the end of the set even more!

Louise Terry

Hi Tim,

I really enjoyed this short video and agree with your comments. We are on a great journey towards a positive safety culture and are seeing many of the things you talk about although most people think training is the answer to everything!

Your video has encouraged me to buy your book and the fact that you are Welsh means it must be true!


To respond to Vicki and Paul

It sounds as if you are on it already. Of course we have to demonstrate compliance for – shall we say – ‘practical’ reasons (as well as BE compliant in the vast majority of cases) I think the key point is that the (or rather one) key mindset needed to push on to excellence is that compliance is but base on.


PS Louise, the cheque is in the post … along with a proposal of marriage!

Nick Molloy

You summed up in one sentence a key issue that many companies misunderstand or hide behind – that “compliance is but a base”. It should not be a point at which companies stop but start from.

Graham Watson

An excellent engaging presentation. I’m going to take these ideas forward and perhaps use them in a presentation to a staff meeting. It would be ideal for my company.
Can’t wait for the next episode.


Thank you Graham!

Dave Smith

How did it go Graham?

I agree that engagement with the risk and dynamic risk assessment is best but how do you do this and still ensure you have demonstrable compliance with the requirements of the management of health and safety at work regs i.e. you are required to have a written risk assessment for all activities undertaken. Is advising the regulator in the event of an unlikely, (but still possible) incident where the individual hasn’t taken all risks into account and has unfortunately injured themselves that they had been trained and empowered to complete dynamic risk assessments likely to be sufficient? I work with… Read more »

Excellent, as ever from Mr Marsh, with great real-world examples – the crossing the road and ‘engaging with risk’ especially. Looking forward to the next ‘desk-top talk’.

Oops – sorry – posted my comment to Tim as a reply to Vicki only. Should be in sequence with the rest . . However, I did mean to post this (below) as a direct response to your point Vicki . . a bit technical but you did ask. It’s not quite true that everything has to be risk assessed, or that all risk assessment has to be written down, although insurance companies might have you believe this. Firstly, risk assessment is required (only) to identify where measures to comply with statutory requirements are needed. The HSWA and ‘sfairp’ do… Read more »
Paul Prosser

Sometimes you just need the evaluation of culture to be re-explained/defined and I find that in this case Tim has does this so well.

I also thaik that Nikki makes an excellent point and I would welcome being included in any response to her question

Charles McLaughlin
It is correct that improving the workplace safety culture of any organisation is considered a transformational leadership process. However, this is unrealistic, and indeed just too simplistic as two very important and extremely critical arguments are made over transformational leadership being the be all and end all of improving workplace safety culture. These are: (1) That all transformational leaders are operating at the same effective and efficient level, and all have the necessary skills to achieve the desired performance outcome, such as; conceptual skills, conflict management skills, interpersonal skills, decision-making skills, political skills, and influence & motivation skills, this is… Read more »
Vince Butler

Excellent idea and execution, practical examples really well put. Well done and if episode 2 is even better – you are doing a superb job with this series. I think the words: valued, respected and appreciated come to mind, thanks for that.

Wayne Jones

This is a very engaging article and I would recommend using 5 minutes of your time to listen to some interesting and thought provoking ideas which are very well promoted


I thought this video was excellent, well presented in an engaging way, with good examples to explain key points.
Looking forward to the next ones.

Gary Pearson

Hi Tim,

Many thanks for the information on the short video. Safety Culture / Behavior is something that to be honest we are just starting to look into and your short video has certainly helped in our upcoming journey.
Keep up the great work and I look forward to the next video.

Bill Pomfret

This is an excellent introduction to safety culture, I look forward to future editions, Congratulations on the Professorship


absolutelly right!


I loved this talk, very clear and focused. At first I thought I might listen to something that I may not get engaged with, but once I started to listen I was happy to continue and by the end of it I felt as if the message is simple, logical and understandable. The perfect thing to keep updated with in a short space of time. Well done!

Steff Williams
Excellent short clip, very informative and easy to relate to. I would add that to assist with Culture, if people within any organisation can answer yes to these three questions, then the company is in a great place: 1) Is Respect and Dignity shown to everyone within the organisation across all levels – i.e. By the most senior person to the most junior or contractor etc? 2) Do you have meaning in your life – i.e. So that your work means something to you? 3) Do you regularly receive recognition for your contribution at work? Tim – also congratulations on… Read more »
I absolutely agree with the theory behind all this. The problem I see from the small-business end is not normally a lack of employee engagement, but a lack of Director-level engagement – the normal things: not turning up to meetings, poor communications – internally and externally; overly focussed on ‘compliance’ (whatever that is – normally just represented by paperwork, rather than practices); lack of acknowledgement of their role in setting standards; excuse-making over risk decisions, blame culture etc. At the small business end there’s often a lack of time to spend on H&S so the theory has to necessarily be… Read more »
As always excellent and thought provoking – many thanks Prof Tim. One of the biggest cultural challenges our profession (and any other for that matter) face is getting communications right. In the emerging workplace we need to focus less on HS professionals communicating the message and more on how we engage with people so that they become more receptive to the messages. For me this is an important distinction and analogous to Tims four steps in that more and more we find that people want to and indeed need to get involved, being mindful. Before we invest our time in… Read more »
Peter Crossingham

Hi Tim,

Great work on finding simple ways to explain safety culture. The presentation on similar things you did at Tata Steel was also excellent.

Keep up the good work!


Heather Beach

Hi Tim – great job as always. Delighted these are flying. It isn’t just down to the idea – your execution is outstanding as always. You really make safety engaging. Which is the point after all!


Some good points:
Broad compliance instead of Blind compliance
I like the crossing example – I often argue that it is safer to cross the road away from a crossing because you are making a deliberate conscious decision

Lee F

Its a pleasure hearing someone say what you want to say all the time, but haven’t got the same intellect. Totally professional

presentation which makes so much sense, thank you Professor Tim !




Lee, that’s really overly kind. (Thanks anyway though!)


Tim, I have just started as a H&S Assistant and these presentations have been fantastic in summarising some amazing point. Probably the most engaged I have been when looking for talks on H&S subjects.


Thank you Luke. That’s exactly what we were trying to achieve! Tim

Chris Watcham

Excellent! going to present this as a snapshot at our annual company conference. Good work old chap