Gulfshore Insurance > Gulfshore Blog > Commercial Risk Management > 9 Steps to a Successful Safety Culture

Real change in safety performance will come about with a change in the safety culture of an organization. Think about the change in the use of seat belts from 30 years ago to now. What got people to put them on without even thinking about them? Gory accidents? Probably not. It was leadership backing up a change in behavior, and then repetitive education, enforcement, and encouragement. Change in culture requires consistent leadership and repetition. A systematic change in the values of the target audience is needed, not a new priority that comes and goes with funding priorities. There are certain steps safety managers can take to make safety a greater value to management and front-line employees. Here are nine steps to a successful safety culture:

  1. View and present safety as a continuous process instead of a compliance requirement.
  2. Look at near-misses or accidents as indicators of a series of connected events that led to the incident, not as a one-time or isolated event.
  3. Integrate safety activities into the safety system, not announce as a new priority that appears to workers as yet another add-on, flavor of the month initiative.
  4. Make the effort to encourage workers for improving safety performance; watch for improvements and recognize them.
  5. Get employees involved in the safety decision-making process instead of dictating new policies and priorities.
  6. When near-misses or accidents occur, look first at why the safety management system failed instead of looking to place blame. Don’t just look at what went wrong, but get into the habit of thinking about the process of recognizing the hazard and finding a way to control the hazard.
  7. Look at accident investigations as action planning, not fault-finding missions.
  8. When instituting a new control, explain to affected workers why they are being asked to change what they normally do, and what success will look like.
  9. Identify all of the “hidden” costs of workplace injuries and illnesses, such as lost work days, worker’s compensation, and replacing a worker, and measure them over time. If you can measure it, you can manage it. Make the case to management that these costs can be managed and reduced with a stronger commitment to safety.

Tim Spear is a Client Advisor at Gulfshore Insurance. Tim works with a wide range of business clients to deliver strategic risk management and commercial property and casualty insurance guidance.

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