Safety Culture Steering Part 1

Steer

Much has been written on safety culture.  I do not profess to have all the answers, but I can discuss my own approach to such a complicated issue.

According to OSHA, “Safety cultures consist of shared beliefs, practices, and attitudes that exist at an establishment.  Culture is the atmosphere created by those beliefs, attitudes, etc., which shape our behavior.”  Once a location has been operating for a while, all aspects of this belief system have worked their way into production.  Sometimes this belief system integrates safety well. Other times, it has been ingrained that safety takes too long and is a pain to deal with.  -Who needs that?!?

Creating a safety culture is for new companies.  Most locations already have one, warts or no.  Safety culture is not something you can effectively change with disciplinary action.  -That only causes a complete stop in accident reporting for all but the most serious accidents due to fear and is a bandaid solution.  The problem is still there, you just can’t see it.

If you’re on the interstate doing 65 MPH you don’t jerk the wheel.  So how do you change it?  Safety culture takes time to evolve.  Culture change first requires management genuinely giving a damn.  It also involves being hands-on, training people well, showing forgiveness, reinforcing policy, and patience. If you’re willing to put in the time and effort to change your culture from “me” to “we” and get to know your people in the process, let’s talk more in Part 2.

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