How to Build a Workplace Culture Focused on Safety

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This is a guest post written by Tom Reddon, Forklift Specialist and Blog Manager for National Forklift Exchange.

Safety is one of the top priorities of every institution. From schools to factories, safety serves as both a virtue and a promise that gives employees the peace of mind to tackle their tasks with vigor and diligence.

Everyone loves a safe work environment. Considering how workplace injuries can sometimes cost millions of dollars, potentially traumatize the victims for life, and create a bad name for the company, it’s no surprise that many companies are striving to cultivate a safety-focused culture in the workplace.

What’s a Safety-Focused Workplace Culture?

Workplace culture is the externalization of a company’s vision, work ethics, and principles. It can be seen in the employer-employee relationship, customer service, dress code, and other big and small interactions you may have experienced or witnessed in the company.

According to Chron.com, workplace culture is a concept that encompasses a myriad of characteristics ranging from management styles to business values, and from the physical environment to the actual employees. For workplaces that seek to be safety-oriented, this means creating an environment where safety is esteemed, enforced, and practiced by everyone regardless of station or position.

Start with the Leadership

Any workplace that wants to promote a safety-focused culture needs to start with their leaders. Leaders play one of the largest roles in setting the “tone” and the “culture.” Because employees often look to their leaders for directions, instructions, and words of advice, leaders can greatly influence the value and decision of employees by both their words and actions.

According to EHS Today, one great way to motivate leaders to become safety champions is by changing the way the company grades safe management. Instead of evaluating safety by the frequency of accidents (or the lack thereof), companies should measure safety base on proactive behaviors. As EHS Today affirms, “When there are measures of what leaders do on a daily and weekly basis to prevent accidents, immediate and certain consequences can be engineered in to ensure those activities occur.” Evaluating safety practices on the scale of proactivity encourages those in leadership to actively prevent accidents and enforce safety rules.

Facilitate Mutual Responsibility

Having leaders setting a “safety first” tone is a good place to start. However, to have a safety culture at your workplace, you’ll need everyone in the company to be a safety champion. As OSHA shares, “In a strong safety culture, everyone feels responsible for safety and pursues it on a daily basis; employees go beyond ‘the call of duty’ to identify unsafe conditions and behaviors, and intervene to correct them.” Consequently, leaders and employees alike should be encouraged to pursue safety practices and make necessary interventions without any fear of repercussion.

Promote Safety Awareness with Workshops and Training

Workshops and trainings are great for not only familiarizing employees with workplace safety rules, but also reinforcing the safety-first culture. As National Safety Council (NSC) asserts, “Creating a culture of workplace safety begins with a well-trained workforce.” Make safety trainings and workshops a regular component, and not a once-a-year crash course. Try also to provide incentive to employees by giving awards, recognitions, or certificates to individuals who have been an exceptional safety champion.

When it comes cultivating a safety workplace culture, you need to everything you can to communicate a clear, consistent message that is backed up by actions. Follow these quick tips and you’ll be on your way to an accident-free, safety-first culture!

Tom Reddon is a Forklift Specialist and Blog Manager for National Forklift Exchange.  He also sits on the MHEDA Executive Dialogue team. Connect with him via Twitter at @TomReddon