Communicating your workplace health and safety values

Communicating your workplace health and safety values in the construction industry

The first recommended culture action in the Construction Safety Competency Framework (as developed by the Cooperative Research Centre for Construction Innovation) is to communicate company values to your workforce – “relate behaviours, decisions and attitudes that are expected, supported and valued by the company”.

(We’ve listed all 9 culture actions here.)

The purpose of this culture action is to embed safety as an everyday attitude, and to avoid the perception that safety is an extra task or an afterthought.

In this article, we dive deeper into this culture action. We’ve identified 5 steps that can be used to effectively communicate your company’s safety values:

1. Identify, document and distribute your safety values

Relate behaviours, decisions and attitudes that are expected, supported and valued by the company.

By formally identifying and documenting your safety values, you remove ambiguity and create a concrete source of truth for the entire organisation. It provides a clear, singular view of what the company and its people are trying to achieve. Common safety values centre around concepts of zero-harm, safety-first attitudes and having a commitment to safety.

Distribute these values to the people in your organisation. Explicitly state that living these behaviours is expected and rewarded at your company.

For example:

  • Distribute your health and safety policy statements to new starters, at commencement of new projects and at site inductions.
  • Display posters and signs highlighting your safety values around sites and at offices.
  • Conduct workshops and presentations dedicated to your safety values.

2. Embed your values

Act to motivate and inspire others to work towards achieving a particular goal or outcome by sending clear and consistent messages about the importance of work health and safety.

For there to be a cultural change, safety values will need to be embedded into existing practices and processes.

For example, you can embed mentions of the company’s safety values and the company’s view on them in:

  • Regular meetings;
  • Toolbox talks;
  • Everyday documents such as Daily Reports;

3. Live your values

Set clear requirements and expectations to employees.

Leadership and management can lead by example by living the company’s values. By showing the value of safety through consistent action, leaders show their organisation where priorities lie.

For example:

  • Management can conduct site walkarounds;
  • Non-safety role managers can reinforce safety;

4. Review based on values

When reviewing a project or an employee’s performance, a section can be dedicated to living the company’s safety values – how this person prioritises, commits to and acts on safety.

5. Reward based on values

Foster the development of attitudes and beliefs that support safe behaviour. Positive reinforcement gets noticed – call out and reward those who truly live the company’s values.

Examples:

  • Acknowledging people in company-wide or site-wide forums;
  • Giving awards and prizes on a regular basis;

Do you have other ways of communicating your safety values? Share your ideas and knowledge by commenting below.

The next article in this series will dive deeper into the second culture action: demonstrating leadership. Subscribe to our newsletter to get a first look.

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