The National Safety Council NSC) has chosen “Building a Safety Culture” as a key component of its message for this year’s National Safety Month, currently being observed this month. The NSC believes safety is more critical than ever and is emphasizing the importance of building and maintaining a safety culture to help prevent needless workplace fatalities and injuries.
When a safety culture is well established, everyone in the company takes responsibility for safety and is encouraged to identify unsafe conditions and help correct them. Co-workers routinely look out for each other and draw attention to unsafe behaviors. A company with a strong safety culture typically experiences fewer at-risk behaviors, which results in lower accident rates, lower turn-over, lower absenteeism and higher productivity.
An effective safety culture is the result of several factors, including:
- Management and worker attitudes, values and beliefs
- Company policies and procedures
- Supervisor priorities and accountability
- Training and motivation
- Employee engagement
- Actions or lack of action to correct unsafe behaviors
Building a safety culture is a process of development and ongoing effort that requires time, planning, good communication and commitment at all levels of an organization. Safety gradually becomes an established company value and an integral part of operations. Over time the norms and beliefs of management and workers shift focus from merely eliminating hazards to eliminating unsafe behaviors and building systems that proactively improve safety and health conditions. Companies that establish and sustain a solid culture of worksite safety will be rewarded with fewer accidents, lower insurance costs, greater productivity, improved quality and a more loyal and motivated workforce.