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Safety First, Safety Always: Does Your Workplace Have a Safety Culture?

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OSHA explains safety culture as shared beliefs, practices and attitudes that exist at an establishment, and the culture is the atmosphere created by those beliefs and attitudes which shape the establishment’s and the team members’ behaviors.

The main goal of a workplace safety program is to prevent deaths and injuries. Organizations with a strong safety culture have established comprehensive safety programs, effectively act on them, and monitor their progress consistently.

Establishing a positive culture in any organization is imperative for the emotional and physical well-being of team members, but when it comes to safety culture, we are talking about life and death. Both effective leadership and employee engagement are critical for a safety culture to become established.

Want to see if your organization has a strong safety culture or is on the right path? Check out this list:
• Leadership commitment – what do you as a leader value in your organization? In strong safety cultures, leaders prove their safety commitment through their actions, their safety initiatives and how they empower others to keep safety in the forefront. Your safety plan clearly defines what your desired safety culture looks like.
• Safety-minded employees – employees are invested in learning about health and safety and know their roles and responsibilities. Safety is everyone’s job, and engaged employees understand this.
• Safety comes first every time – when it comes to production vs. safety, does safety win out every time? Safety should always be the priority.
• Financial investment in health and safety – safety should always be thought of as an investment, not as a cost. When safety issues are identified early on, does your organization take action right away? Are improvements made and problems solved with safety in mind before they become bigger issues?
• Safety and health communication opportunities are on-going, regular and available to all. Does your organization have a system in place to increase safety awareness across the entire organization? Is safety the first item on meeting agendas? It should be!
• Are your leaders and managers in touch with what is happening on the ground level? Are they talking to their employees and getting consistent feedback? Do they truly understand what is happening on the floor or are they stuck in an office doing administrative work and not keeping a pulse on where the work is being done?
• Do your employees feel safe to discuss safety and health issues with management? Does your organization reward and recognize positive safety behaviors?
• Are there regularly scheduled audits of the company’s health and safety programs that are conducted by an external auditor?

Can you think of any other ways to ensure a strong safety culture in your organization?

As the Chinese proverb says, the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago – the second best time is now. Culture change in any organization takes time and perseverance, and Workplace Safety & Health Inc is here to help you achieve a strong safety culture.

Mr. Griffith has a received his bachelors degree in Environmental Health from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. He is a Certified Industrial Hygienist and president of Workplace Safety & Health Company. He has over 35 years of industrial hygiene, safety, loss control and consulting experience. Chemical monitoring, noise measurement, program development and management, risk assessment and computer management of health and safety data are areas of particular strength. Mr. Griffith is a member of the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) at the local and national level. He is also active in the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE).

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