By Tiffany Argent, Head of Customer QSHE Services at SafetyCulture, chartered member of IOSH and an IOSH mentor with 17 years of health and safety management experience in freight forwarding, warehouse operations, science and manufacturing.
The 28th of April 2022 marks World Health and Safety at Work Day. This year the focus is on creating a positive health and safety culture.
As an experienced health and safety professional, developing a positive health and safety culture can be the biggest challenge depending on the industry and the engagement of top management. Here, I will provide you with five tips on building a positive safety culture.
1. Change the narrative
Over the course of my career, one of the most frustrating things I’ve heard is “We’ve always done it this way and no one’s had an accident… yet”.
If we always do what we’ve always done, we will get what we’ve always got. There is always the opportunity to review and develop your current processes and digitize them. If you have a culture within the business that only manages an accident once it has happened, this should be reviewed. The ideal is to proactively manage the accident before even occurs. Removing any blame culture from the business and accepting opportunities for improvement witnessed by the frontline workforce is a great way to change the narrative of safety. Digitizing your newly reviewed processes using SafetyCulture (formerly iAuditor) will reduce assumptions and create pathways to increased visibility.
2. Open lines of communication
Another frustrating quote said to me in the past is, “I didn’t know that” from a frontline worker. We send emails, adorned notice boards (and the back of toilet doors!) with posters and provided printed toolbox talks for managers to disseminate. This doesn’t always work especially with our deskless workforce. Opportunities to use technology to improve this communication gap has been increased significantly over the last two years because of the COVID pandemic. there is nothing more powerful than a video from the CEO directly to the frontline workforce demonstrating their commitment to safety and encouraging open, two-way, communication routes. A feature available in SafetyCulture (formerly iAuditor) is called Heads Up. This tool can deliver relevant communications directly into the hands of those who need it. It can capture acknowledgements and provide a platform for feedback.
3. Increase awareness through training
Providing a well-rounded, interactive training programme is crucial to improving positive safety culture. This doesn’t mean sitting in a meeting room for three days every two years listening to a trainer repeat the fundamentals of how to do your job safely in the workplace. Increasing awareness and providing daily opportunities for colleagues to learn more about safety and responsibilities could be as simple as carrying out a safety walk with a manager, reading a risk assessment, or listening to a safety podcast. Furthermore, with the ubiquity of smartphones and digital devices, awareness of mobile security is just as crucial. Employees must be trained to understand the implications of mobile threats and how to navigate them safely. Within the SafetyCulture platform, EdApp is available to deliver a mobile-first, microlearning tool which is increasingly important to helping businesses train their teams resulting in an increase in productivity and develop employee confidence.
4. Develop proactive reporting
Encouraging the frontline workforce to feel part of the safety improvements within their workplace is a key factor in developing a positive safety culture. Using technology is a great opportunity to capture feedback and ideas with regard to safety on the front line. Most employees will have access to a device, such as a smartphone, that can easily capture live safety issues before they result in an accident. These issues can be sent directly to management if they cannot be immediately rectified at the place of occurrence by the employee. Within SafetyCulture (formerly iAuditor), the Issues feature has scannable QR codes that allow for an easy reporting process as they occur. This QR code function can also be used to encourage any visitors to your site to report safety issues that they witness.
5. Act together
Finally, a collaboration between management and the frontline workforce will really start to drive an improvement in positive safety culture. Demonstrating actions resulting from observations will create a continual cycle of improvement. The resulting improvements will engage the workforce to continually want to report concerns and issues. A similar sense of collaboration should be facilitated between physical and cybersecurity teams. With modern security systems often dependent on digital technologies, it’s essential that all employees understand modern cyber and physical security measures to protect organizations from sophisticated threats. Policies must be created to ensure all updates to physical and cybersecurity systems are communicated between security professionals and the main workforce to ensure no essential security systems are left vulnerable to attack.
The information contained in this article is general in nature and you should consider whether the information is appropriate to your specific needs. Legal and other matters referred to in this article are based on our interpretation of laws existing at the time and should not be relied on in place of professional advice. We are not responsible for the content of any site owned by a third party that may be linked to this article. SafetyCulture disclaims all liability (except for any liability which by law cannot be excluded) for any error, inaccuracy, or omission from the information contained in this article, any site linked to this article, and any loss or damage suffered by any person directly or indirectly through relying on this information.