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May 17, 2011

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SHE11 – Understanding the impact of safety culture on performance

The new Safety Climate Tool (SCT) from the Health and Safety Laboratory can help measure the attitudes to safety and behaviours of employees and how these impact on risk control, offering a unique insight into an organisation’s safety culture, whatever its size or industry. 

Sarah Binch, human and organisational factors specialist with the (HSL), explained to delegates in the Product and Innovation Hub today how the new Tool replaces the original Climate Survey Tool developed by the HSE in the late 1990s, which had over 800 licence-holders and was very well regarded before it was withdrawn from the market in 2007. The new tool has fewer questions, which have been reduced from 71 to a more manageable 40-item questionnaire that takes around 10 to 15 minutes to complete.

The SCT uses eight key factors to measure employees’ attitudes, including accident reporting, organisational commitment, safety-oriented behaviours, health and safety trust (or cynicism), peer group attitudes, resources and employee engagement.

Binch outlined how the tool is useful to raise the profile of health and safety issues in the organisation and get the workforce to talk about them. It can also capture views that employees might normally be reluctant to express, as it is filled in anonymously. It raises the employer’s awareness of both good practice and areas that need attention, gives employers an opportunity to talk to their workforce and finally it provides a baseline measure to help the employer evaluate the impact of the safety culture on performance. The survey is available both on paper and electronically.

In response to a question from the audience, Binch gave an indication of the cost of a five-year licence for the product, which varies according to number of employees from £500 for up to 100 employees to £5000 for organisations with over 1000 employees.

Steve Lewis, compliance superintendent at global mining company Vale, then gave a case study on how Vale uses the SCT to improve its safety record at its refinery in Clydach, south Wales, which employs around 300 people. Since July 2009 the refinery has experienced zero loss-time injuries, a statistic he attributed in part to the use of the tool, which has engaged and involved the workforce in health and safety. The refinery also experienced a reduction in overall work-related injuries of 20 per cent in 2010.

More information on the SCT can be found at www.hsl.gov.uk
 

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