Creating a total safety culture requires a common vision and effort from everyone in an organisation. There is compelling scientific research demonstrating that the management philosophy of an organisation is the most important factor determining its safety performance. For example, research demonstrates that companies with the lowest lost-time injury rates have the highest level of management commitment and employee involvement. The manager and/or the team leader are vital in inspiring employees to a higher level of safety and productivity, which means that they must apply good leadership attributes on a daily basis. Safety leadership is a vital component of any safety, health and environment process.
Safety leadership is defined as, “The process of defining the desired state, setting up the team to succeed, and engaging in the discretionary efforts that drive the safety value,” which broadly boils down to “engaging in and maintaining behaviours that help others achieve our safety goals.” Common safety leadership strategies appear to be:
Importance of Safety Leadership
The way you lead your team on health and safety can determine how safe your site is to work on (and the number of accidents, incidents and ill-health cases that happen) because it is a key ingredient in an organisation’s safety success. Without safety leadership, your company’s safety is questionable. Safety leadership determines the extent to which safety rules and procedures are followed which completely depends on the decision of your safety leader. Safety leadership helps to create and maintain the safety culture in an organisation.
Benefits of Safety Leadership
Addressing health and safety should not be seen as a regulatory burden: it offers significant opportunities. One of the benefits of safety leadership is to reduce costs. Safety in the workplace is one of the needs of employees, and safety leadership ensures it and reduces risks. Other benefits include lower employee absence and turnover rates; fewer accidents; the lessened threat of legal action; improved standing among suppliers and partners; a better reputation for corporate responsibility among investors, customers and communities; and increased productivity because employees are healthier, happier and better motivated.
Achieving a total safety culture requires the organisation identifying the barriers preventing employees and leaders from performing their best. Otherwise, a tremendous effort may be lost pursuing initiatives that miss the mark.
There are many tools and resources available that can help an organisation measure their safety culture, identify the gaps and then assist in implementing a plan and processes for improvement.
Improving the safety culture will take time and resources. Commitments from top management, communication, assessing and improving the existing culture are essential in this process.
If you are interested in improving your safety culture, give us a call here at Dowell Solutions to see how we can tailor a package to suit your organisation’s needs.