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The Importance of a Strong Workplace Safety Culture

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Our last blog, June is National Safety Month, touched on the importance of a workplace safety culture. According to Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA), employers shall provide a place of employment which is free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees. One of the greatest ways to impact the reduction of workplace incidents is having a strong workplace safety culture. To reiterate, a workplace safety culture is defined as a way in which safety is managed in a workplace – a combination of beliefs, perceptions and attitudes towards safety of workers and the overall safety of the work environment itself.

So how do you implement a safety culture at your organization or business? How do you as an employer help facilitate the culture of the workplace that encourages employees to think of safety as an important aspect and behave in a way that prioritizes their own safety and those around them at all times?

It starts at the top – the attitudes held by the company’s leadership. What are the daily safety practices your team is committed to doing? A strong safety culture will not happen overnight – it’s something that has to be continuously discussed. It is also extremely important to get employee buy-in as well, so make sure they understand the why behind specific aspects of any safety practices and plans being implemented - and allow them to ask questions and voice concerns. One way to get buy-in is having a group of employees be a part of the safety culture conversations and what it should look like at your organization – this will help encourage them to take personal responsibility for one another’s safety.

When thinking about your company’s safety culture and implementing new policies and practices, keep these considerations in mind:
• Identify hazards in the workplace – some possible existing hazards to think about include, but are not limited to, workplace layout, types of machinery, clothing, jewelry, even the dangers that can happen with hair length
• Create a safety program – make sure it applies to all workers, and make sure the program covers all safety hazards as well as complies with legal requirements
• Provide safety training to all workers – and make sure there is a program in place for ongoing trainings as part of the culture
• Conduct annual safety audits – take a look at how well the business is doing regarding safety and what can be done to improve
• Have a written policy for handling employee concerns – open communication will encourage workers to continue to bring safety matters to their supervisors’ attention, and part of the policy should include updates to employees on the safety issues as well as how they were resolved, and possible recourse options if the employee is not satisfied with how the safety concern was dealt with

It has been shown companies who focus and achieve a strong workplace safety culture have higher productivity and quality, reduced turnover, reduced costs, and greater employee satisfaction. When everyone in the company perceives workplace safety as part of their job responsibilities, everyone wins.

Tagged in: workplace safety
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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