How to Improve Safety culture
Article by the late George Robotham
A good safety culture is an elusive thing those responsible for safety management systems struggle to achieve. Culture is often defined as “The way we do things around here”. Schein (1990) defines organisational culture as the system of shared beliefs and values that develops within an organisation and guides the behaviour of its members.
Senior managers are the key to a successful safety culture. A true safety culture is established when safety is valued as highly as productivity. Managers and supervisors need to be held accountable for safety in the same manner as production.
Like many things in safety and business generally, leadership is the key.
How to improve safety culture
Development of a robust Safety Management System guided by the lessons from the paper “What Makes a Safety Management System Fly”
- Using industry data on Class 1 personal damage occurrences to guide your safety efforts
- Recruitment, selection and retention of safety-focused staff
- Excellent leadership / build trust between all levels of personnel/ Rewards for excellent performance and lesser rewards for those that are really trying
- Excellent teamwork
- Excellent communications, employees really value face to face communications from their supervisor
- Role modelling by supervisors and managers is important
- Clearly defined responsibilities and accountabilities that are reinforced
- Regular, rigorous audits of key functions
- Short, succinct written procedures for key tasks (use diagrams, pictures, flow-charts wherever possible)
- Written management plans for key performance areas
- Benchmarking against the excellent performers
- Excellent learning programmes guided by a detailed Learning Needs Analysis
Schein E.,1990,Organizational Culture, American Psychologist, vol 45,no.2 ,pp109-19