What is a positive safety culture, and how is it achieved?
An organisation can develop safe working practices through information, instruction, training and supervision, by thoroughly investigating accidents and near misses, and by honest and credible safety inspections. But it can only create a positive safety culture if directors and senior managers lead from the front. Culture change is very unlikely to succeed unless senior managers are committed to leading the change, and this is indicated by the proportion of resources (time, money, effort, people) and support allocated to Health & Safety management and by the status given to Health & Safety versus production, cost etc. It is important that management is perceived as sincerely committed to safety. If not, employees will generally assume that they are expected to put commercial interests first, and safety initiatives or programmes will be undermined by cynicism. Lastly, good communication between all levels within the organisation is essential. Management should listen actively to what they are being told by employees, and take what they hear seriously. In companies with a good culture, you will find the story from employees and management being consistent, and safety is seen as a joint exercise.