How can you improve your company’s safety culture?

“A safety culture is an organisational culture that places a high level of importance on safety beliefs, values and attitudes—and these are shared by the majority of people within the company or workplace. It can be characterised as ‘the way we do things around here’.”

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, 2013

Improving attitudes towards workplace health and safety requires an understanding of what influences an organisation’s culture.

It is a change that requires leadership – the ethos and practices of a positive safety culture needs to be embraced by Directors, CEOs and managers. This is a commitment that sets an example for the rest of the organisation, influencing the actions, beliefs and behaviours initiated and maintained by employees. When shared and owned throughout an entire organisation, a positive safety culture can thrive.

How can safety culture be influenced?

The Construction Safety Competency Framework (developed by the Cooperative Research Centre for Construction Innovation) identified nine Culture Actions that can be used to influence safety culture:

1. Communicate company values

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

Read the deep dive here.

2. Demonstrate leadership

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.

3. Clarify required and expected behaviour

Set clear requirements and expectations to employees.

4. Personalise safety outcomes

Make work health and safety more obvious, relevant and emotional for the individual to personalise their role in preventing and eliminating risks and hazards.

5. Develop positive safety attitudes

Foster the development of attitudes and beliefs that support safe behaviour.

6. Engage and own safety responsibilities and accountabilities

Increase individual input, actions and involvement in the safety management process.

7. Increase hazard/risk awareness and preventive behaviours

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.

8. Improve understanding and effectively implement safety management systems

Enable individuals to increase their knowledge of specific ways in which hazards are managed, as well as their ability to apply and implement the actual WHS processes.

9. Monitor, review and reflect on personal effectiveness

Frequently use various sources of information to gain feedback on the effectiveness of culture actions and other safety related behaviours.

Measuring success

The impacts of improving safety culture can be seen and experienced on site. Measuring this success is a complex task. One method is to use surveys to capture the sentiments of your workforce. The trend of responses over time is an indicator of the nine Culture Actions are making, and a useful tool to keep a pulse on culture.

We’ve created a free tool to make it easy for you to capture this data at your company. The underlying survey questions and scoring methodology was created by New South Wales Government WorkCover (now WorkSafe NSW).

The free Employee safety culture survey tool lets you:

1. Easily get survey responses from your workforce

They can easily and quickly respond to the survey on their phone or any internet-connected device, including iPad kiosks.

You can view an example version of the survey by clicking here.

2. View and analyse the results

You get a private dashboard where you can view your workforces’ safety culture in real time.

You can view a sample dashboard by clicking here.

Click here to use the Employee safety culture survey tool at your company.

Example of the Employee safety culture survey dashboard

Going forward

Over the coming weeks, we will be diving deeper into the 9 Culture Actions and tools to make the process easier. Stay tuned.

We encourage you to conduct this survey as soon as possible to set an internal benchmark. As you implement your Culture initiatives, you will be able to visualise your results.

Implement this at your company today by filling in the form below: