Safety Culture is Important!
Everyone reading this likely already knows that having a solid safety culture in your company is important, especially in heavy industries like mining, energy and construction, but somehow some companies have still not gotten the memo. Thankfully, over the past several decades more and more companies are viewing workplace safety as a fundamental part of doing business, just like finance or accounting, and not just a checklist they must meet.
In Canada, there has been a notable drop in workplace accident rates over the last decades, as more companies prioritize their safety programs. OH&S regulations have played a key role in establishing minimum requirements, but many companies go above and beyond.
According to the Canadian Public Health Association, work injury rates decreased from nearly 50 per 1,000 employees in 1985, to less than 20 per 1,000 employees in 2007. Between 2010 and 2019, there was a significant drop in accident rates among firms that are under the WSIB Ontario system of collective liability: lost-time injuries dropped by 15% and no lost-time injuries dropped by 14%.
Although the benefits are huge, we’re aware that creating a safety culture can be challenging, especially if you are trying to overhaul a company with a below average safety record. Here are four effective ways to improve safety and safety culture at work.
Communication is an important aspect of any company, but it’s critical when it comes to safety! There is a simple reason – you can only solve safety issues if you know they exist. Unfortunately, many minor incidents and near misses go unreported, and underlying problems are not fixed until they cause a serious accident.
Companies must make sure their safety programs are focused on finding solutions, not finding who to blame. If a company only focuses on keeping incident numbers low, and employees are made fully responsible, there is an incentive to hide accidents instead of reporting them.
Toolbox talks are a great way to engage employees in your safety culture and gives them the opportunity to bring attention to safety issues. Also, when supervisors and safety managers are constantly discussing safety, they set the tone for everyone else – safety should be top of mind.
2) Involve Employees
Companies can improve workplace safety by getting everyone involved since the safety department can’t be everywhere at once! When there is a culture of safety, employees know they can take the lead when a situation demands it. They know how to identify and avoid hazards, and they’re empowered to make their own decisions and stop any activities that cannot be completed safely.
Communication and employee involvement are closely related. When you create the habit of reporting and discussing all safety issues, employees will also feel comfortable suggesting improvements for your safety program.
3) Provide Training
I am sure we have all sat through low quality (sometimes laughably so) safety training at some point in our lives and dismissed its importance, but safety training is essential for creating a strong safety culture. Having a positive attitude towards the safety program is helpful for accident prevention, but not enough – your employees also need the right knowledge and skills to stay safe. There is basic knowledge employees should have, regardless your industry, such as hazard assessment and basic PPE. However, Employees must also know how to use tools and heavy equipment properly. Training is also a part of compliance because depending on the job and industry, some courses may be mandatory under local regulations.
Safety training is much easier when you have a Learning Management System that is reliable and easy to use. With an LMS, you can create customized training programs for each job position, while keeping track of progress and finding areas of opportunity.
4) Lead By Example
Top-down leadership is key for a company to improve its safety culture. When the CEO and other senior executives prioritize safety at work, they set the tone and there is a trickle-down effect at all levels. Any manager who visits a factory floor or project site should wear all the PPE required, regardless of how short the visit may be. Not doing so sends the message that safety is secondary!
You need people in your organization to be like Darryl Philbin from the Office. Sure, he may seem like a goofball, but he has the respect of his workers and time and again shows that he cares about worker safety. You need to find the people within your organization
There has been a remarkable drop in workplace accidents since the first safety regulations were introduced and adopted in Canada. However, many companies still view safety as a requirement and not something that can benefit them in a variety of ways. Communication and employee involvement are very important for everyone taking an active role in accident prevention. You also need adequate training to give your employees the skills and knowledge needed to stay safe. Getting buy-in at all levels of the company encourages employees to follow the rules and leadership to set an example. Creating a safety culture in your organization is paramount to keeping employees safe on the job and fostering a positive work environment.