New Year …. New & Improved Safety Culture

Safety culture is still a much talked about topic and one that we all strive to improve.  So if your New Year’s Safety Resolution is to improve safety culture, here are some tips to help you get started:

1) Decide exactly what you want to achieve 

You will only be successful if you have a clear vision reinforced by unambiguous measurable objectives.

Be realistic. Can your organisation support the change you want to see? Are there adequate processes in place?

Do you have the resources you’ll need? Have you involved your colleagues from other areas of your organisation and do you have the support of your leaders?

2) Start at the top

Does your senior team lead safety or do they just manage it?

By accepting that there is a clear moral, legal and business case for a safety focussed culture you’ll have the passionate and proactive support you’ll need from your leadership team.

In turn the leaders in your business will set the example for others to follow, they’ll be passionate, inspiring, engaging and fully support the change you’re trying to make.

3) Take nothing for granted

Safety Culture is an often-used term, it’s misunderstood, and it can be difficult to measure and benchmark.  Have frank conversations with your team, don’t ignore the real issues because they may be big and complex and be pro-active in searching for honest insight into what needs to change.

Set up regular safety tours, organise focus groups and never underestimate the power of trust and communication.

4) Think differently

You will never make progress from inside your comfort zone.

Once you have a committed and supportive leadership team behind you, it’s time to think about exactly how you’re going to engage your colleagues; remember: If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.

5) Involve your workforce

Nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something.

Involving your employees at the earliest opportunity will nurture team work and collaboration. Make the most of their experience and insight, after all they’re the ones who spend their working lives in the environment you help create.

An engaged team who trust their leaders will make the discretionary effort that can make the difference between sustained success or failure. A secret to creating an engaged workforce is showing that you genuinely care about their wellbeing.

Historically the “health” part of health and safety receives less attention than more obvious and immediate safety issues in the workplace. Ensure this is givn an equal platform of consideration and development and let’s not forget with constant attention from the media, awareness of mental health issues is also beginning to drive a change in how we think about, and more importantly, how we deal with this major challenge.

6) Measure the right things

Conventional thinking leads us to assess our safety culture using key performance indicators like: lost time injuries, RIDDORs and days lost. Understanding where you’ve failed is important, but also measure how engaged your team are, how often they actively participate in making improvements and reporting near misses.

Think about how your measures recognise, reward and drive positive behaviours.

7) Be paranoid (in a good way!)

With focus and effort, you will make quick and significant improvements.

But success can breed complacency and complacency can lead to failure; before you know it you’re back where you began.  Stay curious, learn from your mistakes. Learn from colleagues, competitors and always be receptive to new ideas.