An organisation’s culture can have as big an influence on safety outcomes as their safety management system. Culture can be best understood as “the way we do things around here”. An organisation’s culture will influence performance at work and poor safety culture has contributed to many major incidents and personal injuries.¹
The influence of senior people
The aim for any company is to develop a culture where your staff actively want to choose the safe and appropriate way of protecting themselves. Many organisations talk about ‘safety culture’ when referring to the inclination of their employees to comply with rules or act safely or unsafely. However we find that the culture and style of management is just as significant. Success normally comes from good leadership, good worker involvement and good communications.
Safety Climate survey
Rules and regulations are often not enough to ensure the workforce is compliant with PPE usage. That’s why many organisations use behavioural safety techniques and tools which can be a more effective way to alter how a person behaves in the work place.
A Safety Climate survey provides a snapshot of the organisation’s culture in terms of safety. There are many different ways in which you can do this, including using tools and guidance provided by the HSE. According to the HSE, the largest influences on safety culture are¹:
• Management commitment and style
• Employee involvement
• Training and competence
• Organisational learning
Tackling issues in your organisation’s culture
It can take many years to achieve a positive culture change in a large organisation. The first step in this process will often be watching your workforce in action or using a safety climate tool. This will enable you to pinpoint the areas you need to work on.
Many companies bring in outside help to change their culture. If this is an option that feels right for you, you should always try to retain ownership of the process throughout. This will help you to continue the good work once your partnership with the external company has come to an end. As we mentioned before, it would be a mistake to focus your attention purely on the workers. Your change programme must consider all levels and jobs within the organisation, including the most senior managers.
Help is at hand
If you’d appreciate advice on tackling issues in your organisation’s culture, or choosing the right PPE, an expert at 3M will be happy to provide the guidance you need. All you have to do is call the helpline on 0870 60 800 60 (UK) 1800 320 500 (Ireland).