Incident Free Workplace
3 Steps Towards a Safety Culture
|1. Engage Employees|
At the end of the day, leadership is limited in its ability to provide coverage and even the best safety programs are only as effective as the level to which they have employee buy-in and support. Injury-free workplace cultures work at passing the "2 AM test". That is, what happens at 2 o'clock in the morning when no one is around, the consultants are long gone, and the managers have all gone home? Even if no one will know, does the employee follow procedures and guidelines because it is the right thing to do? Organizations can develop this level of commitment by providing employees with opportunities for meaningful engagement. For example asking them to provide information and feedback about the organization's efforts, help in measuring and managing exposures, or help identifying solutions to safety problems.
2. Challenge Helplessness
Culture is as much about what we hear as what we see. Listen to how people describe performance issues and problems in your organization. Do they express optimism about safety and their ability to influence it, even if they are not in charge? Or do they define safety as something "outside their control" or as "someone else's job"? Helplessness directly counters the ownership required from employees throughout the organization for continuous improvement. Challenging helplessness starts with being aware of its currents among employees and consciously articulating messages that counter them.
3. Focus on Exposures
Traditional safety management tends to use injuries as the driver for change and the measure of improvement. This approach is somewhat like trying to drive forward by looking in the rear-view mirror; it only tells us where we've been, not where we're going. Injury-free cultures work on seeing and understanding the potentials for injuries that exist in the organizational landscape. They use this information to identify patterns, inform the design of safety mechanisms and controls, respond appropriately to the potentials each exposure represents, and understand the relationship between non-safety systems, processes and safety performance.