If you Google the terms “workplace safety” or “employee safety,” you’re almost certain to see a result that talks about a workplace safety culture. Well, that’s because one is needed for the other. To be more precise, ensuring workplace safety requires having an effective culture that promotes it across your organization and among your employees.
In recent years, workplace safety has become increasingly important for every organization, but especially those that require their employees to operate heavy machinery, work in hazardous environments, or have risks associated with the tasks performed by them.
Unfortunately, more workplace incidents occur if organizations are not improving workplace safety continuously, and such improvement should be part of the culture as well. These workplace incidents lead to OSHA violations, heavy penalties, and long-term effects down the road. This is exactly why organizations are intensely focusing on improving employee safety, hiring safety professionals and reducing incidents, and they are aiming to do so by promoting a safe culture within the workplace.
Let’s take a look at what workplace safety culture is and how to promote it, along with six of its essential elements.
What is meant by workplace safety culture?
A safety culture in the workplace refers to a type of organizational culture that prioritizes employee safety and the values and beliefs that support it. It isn’t exclusive to either the management or the workers – these values must be shared by everyone in the organization. But why is such a culture crucial? Well, organizations that promote a culture of safety have fewer workplace incidents, higher employee retention, better bottom lines, and optimized operations.
How do you promote a safety culture in the workplace?
One of the most basic things to understand about culture is that it is shared by a group of people who have something in common, and that commonality, in this case, is the organization. The cultural beliefs must be present in all parts of the organization and at all levels, not just in certain departments. Everyone in the company is responsible for their own safety as well as that of others – everyone must work to not only keep themselves safe but everyone else as well. Thus, a workplace safety culture is promoted by having its beliefs and values instilled in everyone.
Let’s take a look at some of the crucial elements of a culture that promotes workplace safety.
6 essential elements of an effective workplace safety culture
In any culture, communication is a crucial piece of the puzzle and the key to success. Ensure that workers understand what your goals are regarding workplace safety and how you want to achieve them. Moreover, responsible organizations that truly want a safe workplace should emphasize the fact that safety is above everything else and instill this message in all their workplace safety efforts, posters, training sessions, etc.
Organizations that have commendable safety cultures hold regular safety sessions – weekly, biweekly or sometimes monthly. Doing so over time proves that you are actually committed to ensuring a safe workplace, and you can increase employee buy-in by putting the workers in charge of such sessions.
Work on putting policies in place that resonate with your message regarding workplace safety and ensure that they are available to everyone at all times, preferably in a digital format. You can use a workplace safety compliance application to readily share such documents and relevant knowledge with employees – more on that later.
2. Training sessions whenever required
One of the most common but crucial elements of a culture promoting workplace safety is training. However, don’t make training sessions tedious – make them engaging by having the workers participate and share with their colleagues their own experiences and any tips they have. This shows that you value your employees and their views regarding workplace safety.
Needless to say, training sessions should also be conducted whenever you implement a new practice, policy or machinery that can affect workplace safety. Whenever new machinery is introduced, ensure that the workers who need to operate them understand the ins and outs of the equipment.
3. Regular engagement between management and workers
A workplace safety culture must be initiated by the top management, not the other way around. Merely stating to your direct subordinates that you want a safe culture for the employees will not be enough. Instead, you have to lead by example so that everyone else will follow.
Ensure that all employees at all levels are aware of your vision for a safe workplace. Directly engage with everyone, whenever possible, to instill in them that safety is the top priority, and let them know how you are working and taking feedback regarding its continuous improvement. That brings us to the next element.
4. Encouraging employees to report incidents
One of the most important aspects of workplace safety is preventing incidents, accidents, and even near misses. The latter can become a considerable issue down the line if not addressed promptly. What better way is there to detect such events than asking employees to report them?
Remind workers that they are an integral part of the organization and that without their participation, you cannot work on improving employee safety. Repeat this message during training sessions, safety meetings and whenever workplace incidents occur.
You can further improve workplace safety by incorporating CloudApper Safety – an OSHA recordkeeping application that enables workers to report incidents, accidents, and near misses right from their smartphones. They can also add photos as supporting material. All of this helps management make quicker decisions, reducing response time and paperwork.
5. Encouraging and incorporating feedback
While the management is in charge of calling the shots for any given organization, a culture promoting workplace safety must encourage employees to provide their feedback regarding the existing safety measures. The employees are those working on the front lines and at risk of getting injured. Therefore, they are the ones most able to provide ample feedback about safety challenges they face at work. However, taking the feedback is just one part of the process; evaluating it to determine feasibility and incorporating it into your practice is what significantly improves workplace safety.
6. Incorporating solutions that improve workplace safety compliance
Everything is going digital nowadays, and this has benefits for any organization.
What about OSHA recordkeeping – can it be digitized? Yes. CloudApper Safety does that, and more!
The Safety application, as previously stated, is OSHA recordkeeping software that removes the administrative burden, makes the entire process accessible right from your smartphone, and streamlines OSHA compliance.
Besides incident reporting and centralized document storage, it can also help you conduct internal audits to identify the most common causes or locations of workplace incidents and address them, improving workplace safety down the line.
The application also enables employees to share workplace safety practices they feel are ideal for them with their colleagues and the management, fostering a workplace culture that focuses on safety for all.