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Ways to improve Safety Culture in your business

What is safety culture

Safety culture refers to the shared values, practices, and attitudes within an organisation regarding the importance of safety. Safety culture doesn’t just refer to employee attitudes to safety, it also includes the commitment of senior management and mid-level management and their approach to safety in their operations, decision-making, and daily activities.

Why you should improve the safety culture within your business

A strong safety culture is essential for preventing incidents, ensuring compliance with regulations, and fostering a work environment where employees feel valued and protected. Organisations with a robust safety culture tend to have better safety performance, lower incident rates, and higher employee morale and productivity.

Tips for how this can be improved

  1. Set your expectations for working safety at the earliest opportunity.

Just because your company has a health and safety policy or has a safety induction, does not mean a new employee understands your company’s commitment to safety. You have to communicate that to them clearly and regularly.

Try to include the employees health and safety responsibilities in their job role description and  ask health & safety questions in the interview process. This allows you to plant the seed that health and safety is important within the business and also supports with setting key performance indicators (KPI’s) against their health & safety performance in the future.

Sit your employees down on day one and have a face-to-face conversation with them about the company’s expectations. Make sure they understand that you expect them to follow the safety procedures above all else. You may also ask them to sign a commitment statement during this talk to emphasise that they have agreed to protect themselves and others whilst at work.

  • Actively practise that “Everyone is responsible for Health and Safety” – Especially management!

Your policy will advise employees that everyone is responsible for health and safety, but it needs to be put into practice by all levels. How many times have you seen senior management not abiding by their own procedures? Whether it be not wearing mandatory PPE, ignoring a hazard, or not actively asking their employees for honest feedback. If senior managers don’t live by the Company’s values, why would their employees and those reporting to them? Management needs to communicate the importance of health and safety in the workplace and then demonstrate their commitment to their own procedures.

  • Communication – Make it interesting

Health & safety should be discussed regularly, at all levels. Some examples of easy ways to do this are for line managers to add a safety element to the start of shift meetings or by department managers carrying out weekly toolbox talks or safety briefs with their department.

Ultimately, you want to make safety interesting and if possible, interactive. Maybe introduce a new health and safety campaign each month which could include, safety talks, posters and flyers, competitions and challenges, guest speakers, feedback surveys or even activities like, drop in hearing testing or yoga depending on your topic.  

  • Increase your ways of reporting

There should be several ways for an employee to report a concern, hazard or suggest an improvement, not just via their line manager. Look at introducing different reporting lines in different formats. Ensure at least one route allows employees to report anonymously. Reporting methods could be:

  • Introducing a suggestion box or the ability for employees to scan a QR Code to allow them to report anonymously.
  • Create a hotline or health and safety email address where employees can call or email in their concerns.
  • Send out surveys for employees to complete.

Ensure you then go back to employees with what you have done, maybe introduce a newsletter or notice board to display “You said, we did” so the workforce can see that management is actively listening to employees and making positive changes.

Summary

Safety culture takes time to build. It relies heavily on leadership commitment, communication, reporting and continuous improvement, but it is worth the time and investment. Several studies have been conducted around the world which can evidence the benefits of a positive safety culture within a business, some of which are linked below:

Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development

The CIPD’s annual survey report on health and well-being at work, in collaboration with Simplyhealth, provides insights into the benefits of prioritising employee well-being, including health and safety aspects. Key findings are:

  • Improved health and well-being practices, including safety measures, lead to lower absence rates and higher productivity.
  • Organisations that invest in employee health and safety see improved job satisfaction and retention rates.

British Safety Council

The British Safety Council has conducted research and published reports demonstrating the positive impact of health and safety on business performance. Key points include:

  • Companies with strong health and safety cultures report fewer accidents and incidents, resulting in cost savings and higher productivity.
  • Enhanced reputation and employee loyalty are additional benefits of maintaining high safety standards.

These studies and many more consistently show that a positive safety culture not only improves health and safety outcomes but also enhances overall business performance through increased productivity, reduced costs, and higher employee engagement. If you need any support with building a positive health and safety culture within your business, let us know and one of our expert consultants could help.