Promoting a Positive Health and Safety Culture: A Guide for Managers

March 16, 2018
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Instilling a positive health and safety culture in your company is important. It protects your staff from illness and injury, reduces the number of absences, decreases injury and illness costs and allows you to remain competitive in an overflowing marketplace.

So, what exactly is a health and safety culture and how do you know if you have a positive one?

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) defines an organisation’s safety culture as: “the product of individual and group values, attitudes, perceptions, competencies and patterns of behaviour that determine the commitment to, and the style and proficiency of, an organisation’s health and safety management”.

Establishing a positive health and safety culture in your business starts with the attitudes and behaviour of those in management positions. It’s crucial that everyone in your business encourages and endorses good health and safety practices.

This article provides you with the top signs that you might be promoting a failing health and safety culture, and what you can do to rectify that.

Signs of a Poor Safety Culture

Complacency can lead to a poor health and safety culture, resulting in increased injuries, accidents and absence days, and a decrease in profits and productivity. Therefore, it’s important that you know the signs of slipping into bad habits.

Poor Incident/Accident Reporting

Are accidents in your workplace constantly going unreported? Do you investigate only in the event of a serious or fatal injury?

If you’re more concerned with protecting your company and your profits, rather than employee safety, your culture is likely suffering.

Workplace injury

Blame Culture

Does your company tend to blame individuals for accidents and injuries? Do you consider them a natural part of the job?

You might also find yourself disciplining the employee and rushing back to production to avoid losing production time, rather than investigating further. If you place all the responsibility for accidents on the individual(s) directly involved, you may be promoting a negative health and safety culture.

Profitability over Safety

Is profitability your only concern, sometimes at the expense of employee health and safety?

If your sole priority is profit, and you view health and safety measures as a cost on your business, you aren’t creating that positive culture. In fact, by promoting a positive culture you will actually save money in the long term. You’ll waste less money covering absences from work-related illness and injuries, reduce your insurance claims and renewal premiums, reduce the cost of repairs after accidents and maintain a positive company reputation.

Lack of communication

Is there a lack of communication between management and staff regarding health and safety issues? Are workers usually told not to complain when they raise safety concerns?

Open communication is important for building a positive culture, and by stifling it you might achieve the opposite.

Communication could also break down if your managers and supervisors don’t take the company’s health and safety policies seriously. A positive health and safety culture starts at the top, so it’s important those in charge lead by example.

You may be interested in our guide on How to Report an Incident or Accident at Work.

Developing a Positive Health and Safety Culture

You should use the following tips to improve and strengthen your health and safety culture:

    • Communication. Health and safety information should be widely and easily available for everyone in accessible formats, such as braille or audio versions. You should also consult your staff on any updates to health and safety policies and procedures.
    • Lead by example. If you ignore your health and safety policies, your employees will follow suit. Therefore, it’s important you ensure everyone in your company is fully committed to employee health and safety.
    • Be open and committed. It’s important that your staff feel able to approach you with safety concerns, so make sure your managers and supervisors consider and investigate all concerns seriously. You could reward staff who report safety concerns or hazards to help reinforce good practices.
    • Training. Companies are legally required to provide their employees with adequate health and safety training. By ensuring your employees are well trained, you give them the skills and knowledge necessary to carry out their jobs safely and effectively. Training no longer needs to be time-consuming and costly either – invest in some high-quality e-learning courses so your employees can learn at their convenience.
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