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SAFETY CULTURE Time to Review

What is Safety Culture?

Safety culture has been described by the phrase “…it’s the way we do things around here”.  Examining culture is like taking a picture of our values, priorities and attitudes – particularly in relation to safety in the workplace. That picture might show a weak or strong safety culture.  

Additionally, culture is constantly changing, especially as we encounter new influences, new ideas and ways of doing things.  Having a strong culture today doesn’t mean that it will be strong a year from now – reassessment is vital!

Examining our actions… our practices… 

At any point in time, our culture will have both strong elements and weaknesses to work on! We may ask – ‘how are we doing and how could we do better?’  We can only answer those questions by examining our actions – our practices!

Viewing safety culture in terms of practices is useful as it provides a practical way of bringing about cultural changes.  Focusing on practices also places the responsibility for safety culture with senior management.  This is because it is the leaders of an organisation that determine what is important and what practices will be followed.

The UK Health and Safety Executive¹ defines 5 key practice areas:

  •         Management (safety leadership)
  •         Relationships (honesty, trust, respect and participation)
  •         Knowledge (systems, rules, training and skill)
  •         Resources (time and conditions), and
  •         Reporting (identifying issues and addressing them).

¹ The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is the independent safety regulator and advisor in Great Britain. http://www.hse.gov.uk/aboutus/hse-story.htm

View this article in Safety Bulletin 111