Corporate culture plays a major role in an organization’s success or its failure. Safety is a critical part of that culture. A major part of a company’s mission should be to send its employees home safely. A company that embraces safety usually exhibits the following characteristics.
Management sets the tone.
Policies and procedures should apply to all employees. If your senior managers disregard a cell phone ban while driving, your employees will, as well. Always begin with a policy statement that endorses safety, signed by an organization’s top official. Develop a safety manual and institute safety training. Then, make sure employees, including managers, are held accountable for safety violations.
All employees in an organization are important.
When employees feel devalued, there are reportedly higher incidents of absenteeism. When workers substitute for ill or injured workers, accidents may be more likely to occur. In addition, employees who feel unappreciated may have, in years past, gone to other companies. Today there is little option for job change. This can leave a workforce that is simmering with negative emotions, toxic, according to many human resource managers.
Training efforts and safe equipment are a priority.
Budgets are tight, but training and improved equipment pays dividends. For example, an ergonomic keyboard may cost more than $100, but one workers’ compensation claim may cost thousands when it increases your experience modification factor. As budgets implode, safety training is often one of the first budget cuts. This will ultimately translate into lost revenue if employees are injured. OSHA fines are increasing and medical costs are soaring, so it pays to prevent injuries. Replacing damaged equipment, too, is expensive and may mean a temporary production loss.
Employees are encourage to take the time to work safely.
From the day they are hired, managers reinforce the message “shortcuts cause injuries.” Employees must be encouraged to work only as quickly as they are able to safely. While production goals are essential to profit, employees who feel overly pressured to perform are more likely to be injured than employees who work at a brisk, steady pace.
Good housekeeping and appropriate maintenance is the rule.
Most OSHA inspectors agree that a dirty and ill-maintained workplace is one where accidents are more likely to occur. In addition, poor housekeeping is depressing and tends to reinforce an attitude that says “sloppy is acceptable.” This can translate into sloppy work habits, as well. Keep areas clean and free of debris. Equipment kept in top working condition can prevent accidents and costly breakdowns.
Employees feel empowered to report problems and near misses.
A strong safety culture encourages employees to report problems and near misses. There must be no punitive actions when employees report near misses. Firefighters have taken reporting near misses to a new level at http://www.firefighternearmiss.com/. Here firefighters can anonymously report near misses. The incident is reviewed so that other firefighters can learn from other departments’ mistakes.
Line employees are a big part of the safety process.
Line employees and front-line supervisors are “troops on the ground” in any organization. They understand the problems inherent in processes that can maim, injure or damage equipment. Line employees must feel empowered to offer input into processes and procedures. In some companies, only managers and supervisors serve on safety committees. Avoid this counterproductive practice. Make sure line employees serve on company safety committees and feel free to offer input on processes and procedures.
Organizations reward incentives safe behavior and reprimand unsafe actions.
Small incentives can mean big changes. Safety incentives may be one of the first victims of a shrinking budget. However, employee recognition efforts do not have to be costly to be effective.
Building a safety culture can help your organization reduce injuries and improve production. An improved safety culture will also lower costs to fix damaged equipment and help avoid public relations problems. For just these reasons, and there are many more, improving your organization’s safety culture make sense.