Just like the actions, beliefs and social norms that make up the general culture we live in, a workplace with a vibrant safety culture has a shared vision about what constitutes a safe work environment. Since most professionals in manufacturing know only too well the physical, emotional and financial toll that an unsafe work environment can take on workers and organizations, it’s important to know how to establish a culture of safety that becomes part of a company’s DNA.
How to Build a Safety Culture
Developing a positive health and safety culture must go beyond just being incentivized. The problem with rewards — as well as penalties — is that people are far more motivated to hide and/or under-report mishaps and injuries because they’re either desperately trying to be considered for an incentive or want to avoid being penalized. And this goes right to the heart of why a safety culture is so different from a program that consists merely of ticked boxes, little supervision and even less managerial buy-in.
For this reason, knowing how to develop a safety culture is far more about fostering the right mindset and encouraging behavioral changes across your entire workforce — from the C-suite to the factory floor. In other words, beyond one-off meetings and oversimplified programs, nurturing a real culture of safety requires an ongoing commitment to replace unsafe practices and complacency with a proactive approach to preventing injuries, mishaps and illnesses.
Ways to Create a Better Safety Culture
Whether you’re just embarking on the journey to build a safety culture or looking to bolster the one you already have, these tips can help you create a workplace where safety becomes a shared mindset:
- Communication: Simply putting up a poster that reads, “Think Safety,” isn’t the same as having regular meetings to both discuss safety issues and distribute safe practice materials. Of course, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put up the poster. In conjunction with regular meetings, a poster can become an active safety reminder instead of just a piece of paper with little or no meaning.
- Training: From encouraging better ergonomics for shift workers who are on their feet the entire day to safer handling and disposal practices associated with harmful materials and chemicals, scheduling workplace safety training demonstrates your commitment to a culture of good health and safety.
- Leadership: Oftentimes, when encouraging mindfulness and behavioral change, the best results typically occur when authority figures — such as executives and managers — lead by example. There’s simply nothing more important to a company-wide safety culture than demonstrated buy-in from leadership.
- Reporting: People are different and have their own preferred ways of doing things. That’s why your procedures for reporting safety issues should be open to various forms of communication. From face-to-face meetings to an anonymous suggestion box, if you really want to know which safety issues your company needs to address, make the reporting of issues a positive process that allows all workers to communicate their ideas in a safe and comfortable manner.
Developing a Positive Health and Safety Culture With MANTEC
Since 1988, MANTEC has been dedicated to training and advising manufacturers across South Central Pennsylvania. As a private, non-profit 501(c)3, we have a vendor agnostic approach to all products and programs, which is why we’re uniquely suited to help you establish a safety culture tailored to your organization.
When it comes to health, safety and efficiency, we’re here to help. Contact us today.