Why is it that the safety culture in some companies is very good and in some companies not at all? After visiting and working with different companies for years, you go to a company and you immediately realize that safety is important here, and employees know and adhere to it. And in some you hear various reasons why it is not possible to apply a normal safety culture, employees are accused and their willingness to contribute to safety, and sometimes even considered normal if an employee is injured within a year – “The maker still happens!”
The safety culture never depends on what kind of employees the company has. Safety culture is a part of the company’s image, which starts with the management and the values and vision set by it.
Employees come to work and embrace the values that the company has set, and in general, when recruiting employees, the company’s values should be introduced and employees should be selected according to whether or not they support them.
Essential components for achieving an effective safety culture
Vision – Bringing out a well-known and at times insulted saying: If you don’t know where you’re going, how do you know when you’re there? Safety or, more generally, employee well-being could be part of the company’s vision. It is generally not possible without employees, and now there are already hundreds of studies and articles that prove that constant employee turnover is expensive and detrimental to the company.
Leadership – the organization is the face of this leader. Therefore, it is important to realize that the leader / management is an example for the employees and they are the main carriers of the company’s values. For example, if it is mandatory to wear safety shoes in production, then the management must also wear safety shoes when entering production.
Flexibility – The company can adapt processes to the changed situation and needs. This is especially relevant in today’s Covid light, where we have had to reorganize our work processes and work arrangements in a very short time. Successful were those who were able to be flexible.
Involvement – The most effective promoter of a safety culture is the involvement of employees in various decision-making processes. When employees have said their word, it is difficult to break it later.
Information and communication – Communicating the right information in the right way is necessary for employees to feel involved and for stories not to come to life. Here, too, the chronic virus was a good example in so many organizations where rumors circulated and employees were panicking and it was difficult for management to manage it all.
Reporting – Regular reporting of incidents, accidents at work, work environment concerns should be encouraged. Employees should therefore not be penalized or ridiculed if they point out a significant shortcoming. In addition, such situations should also be recorded in writing.
Personal responsibility – Every employee should understand their personal responsibility to ensure a safety culture. Violations of safety should certainly be noticed and offenders should be prosecuted, but penalties should be set in a way that is proportionate to the guilt. In addition, other employees should be informed of various violations, but the culprit should certainly not be placed in a so-called fire dispute, ie it could remain anonymous.
Favorable for development and learning – The company learns from success stories, but also draws conclusions from not very successful situations. There is no fear of reviewing the processes needed to bring about change. Research and learning from the practices of other organizations is studied, because often other companies have faced the same problem.
Every company should rethink its values and realize that a safe and healthy work environment is not only part of the legal requirements, but also an important component of a company’s reputation. I believe that when we see some work environments, we have all drawn conclusions about this company and allowed our opinion to be formed about this company. A good reputation is also important for a company’s financial performance.