EHS Management, Safety Culture and Behavioral Safety

Four Leadership Strategies to Enhance Your Safety Culture

Yesterday, we looked at five ways employers can encourage a positive safety culture in the workplace. Today, we’ll focus more directly on management and leadership strategies that can enhance your company’s commitment to safety—and how your workers perceive it.

Safety team, safety leadership

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When you’re looking at your commitment to safety and your workers’ perceptions of safety in the workplace, examine your leadership style and safety management system. Get into the habit of thinking about the process of recognizing hazards and finding ways to control them. When you’re thinking in terms of leadership, systems, and processes, workers will start to see safety as an integrated, long-term, value-enhancing, positive process rather than as a standalone program that is often at odds with production.

Here are some leadership strategies that can help:

1. Ask the right questions. Look at safety initiatives and accident investigations as action planning, not fault-finding missions. That way, rather than focusing on the past and on things that can’t be changed, you’ll be focused on ways to improve safety performance going forward.

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2. Improve your communications skills. When instituting a new control, explain to affected workers why they are being asked to change what they normally do and what success will look like.

3. Identify and manage cost drivers. Workplace injuries and illnesses involve a substantial amount of “hidden” costs, such as lost workdays, workers’ compensation, and replacing a worker. Identify these costs and measure them over time. If you can measure them, you can manage them. Make the case to management that these costs can be managed and reduced with a stronger commitment to safety.

4. Don’t accept failure. Accepting that “accidents happen” is an indication of a faltering safety culture—one where employers and workers are not in control of their own fate. In companies with a strong safety culture, employers and employees work together to identify and control hazards before anyone is seriously hurt. That’s the kind of environment that can properly be called a “positive safety culture.”

Looking for more advice on being a safety leader and building a stronger safety culture? Join us at Safety Culture 2019 and learn new skills that can lead you and your organization in a positive direction.