Last time, we talked about the ways in which having a safer culture can help reduce injuries. But what is a safety culture?
The culture of a workplace (or of any place) is its unspoken characteristics. Anthropologists might define culture as "the sum total of ways of living built up by a group of human beings and transmitted from one generation to another." Workplaces are the same. Beliefs, values and ultimately behaviors are all part of culture. In a workplace, culture includes how an organization goes about its work. How information passes from one level to the next, how the organization handles stress such as busy times, or slowdowns. How does it reward employees? All of these and more make up a workplace culture.
Successful companies with strong cultures integrate safety with business goals. This balance makes certain that it permeates all parts of the organization, then safety, productivity, and quality should congruently mature in the same cultural direction.
A culture of safety means that each worker understands that the organization's attitude and outlook inherently value safety. A culture is the shared sense of responsibility by each member of a team toward the whole. It requires an engaged management that will not shy away from benchmarking its values, measuring itself against those values, then setting strategic action steps to attain continuous improvement.
In our next entry, we’ll discuss how one creates a safety culture.