Of course workplace safety is important to you. But how important is it to your employees? If you don’t know, it may be time to evaluate the safety culture at your business and think about what you can do to improve it.
What is a Safety Culture?
A safety culture is the shared beliefs, practices and mindsets that positively shape behaviour at an organisation.
A safety culture sets the standard for overall safety at your organisation. For example, if the head chef at a restaurant carries knives blade-up while walking through the kitchen, that tells the rest of the kitchen staff that safe knife handling is not a priority and that they can carry a knife any way they choose. This unsafe behaviour is perpetuated by new employees who think this is an acceptable thing to do.
But if the head chef is diligent about health and safety in the kitchen (and always carries knives close to his or her side with the blade down), that attitude will influence the rest of the staff and create a culture of safety.
If your employers’ liability premium rises every year, analysing the effectiveness of your organisation’s safety culture may be an effective way to start controlling this cost.
An organisation that cares about its employees’ well-being is often viewed as a better place to work—safety initiatives and programmes can help attract and retain top talent in a competitive market.
Additionally, your current staff will value feeling safe and secure in the workplace, leading to increased loyalty and productivity and a stronger, less expensive workforce.
How Can I Motivate My Employees to Care?
You can motivate your employees to care about safety by tying it directly to compensation or incentives. Reward employees who follow all safe working procedures and champion safety throughout the workplace by helping others. But make sure you understand the difference between reward and recognition—you don’t want employees doing something just because they know they’ll get something tangible in return.
A strong safety culture with appropriate recognition and rewards will inspire employees to look out for one another and identify unsafe behaviours or situations. Everyone will feel responsible for safety and pursue it on a daily basis by going beyond the ‘call of duty’ to recognise unsafe conditions and behaviours and to intervene to correct them.
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