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Gaining Health and Safety Culture

Alex McHugh - Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Health and Safety: How to drive the correct culture through your organisation.

Driving a positive health and safety culture primarily comes from management levels.
Key aspects of an effective culture are:

Management commitment: Commitment produces higher levels of motivation and
awareness in terms of health and safety throughout an organisation. The active
involvement of senior management in the health and safety system is very important,
and overall can save employees and the company time and money. The investment and
commitment from management into health and safety and supporting staff works out as
less expensive to companies in the long run.

Visible management: Managers need to be seen to lead by example when it comes to
health and safety. Managers who have more control of their health and safety and make
regular visits to the ‘shop floor’ can openly express the importance of health and safety
and act by leading by example to resolve issues first-hand. 
It is important that management is committed to safety. If not, employees will generally
assume that they are expected to put the company’s commercial interests first, and
safety initiatives or programmes will be undermined.

Good communication: All levels of the organisation need to be able to hear positive
feedback and questions concerning health and safety as part of everyday work, whether
it be a story of good health and safety practice or a way in which health and safety can
be improved. 
Management should listen actively to what they are being told by employees, and take
what they hear seriously. In return employees should listen to management just as
seriously about working to health and safety legislation and safety management
systems.

Active employee participation in safety is important to build ownership of safety at all
levels and exploit the unique knowledge that employees have of their roles. This can
include active involvement in workshops, risk assessments, plant design and more. In
companies with a good culture, you will find the story from employees and management
being consistent, with safety seen as a joint exercise. 

“Leaders, at all levels, need to understand the range of health and safety risks in their part of the
organisation and to give proportionate attention to each of them. This applies to the level of detail and
effort put into assessing the risks, implementing controls, supervising and monitoring.”
HSE - Management of health and safety.