4 min read
Practising what you preach: How leaders can improve safety culture in the workplace
By: Lucidity Team on Jun 22, 2022 7:02:28 PM
When you think of workplace health and safety (WHS), you might first imagine industries that use heavy machinery, such as construction or manufacturing. But in reality, everyone should be concerned with WHS regardless of their line of work or position in the company.
Critical to effectively managing WHS in your business is establishing a positive safety culture at the leadership level and developing it throughout your workforce. Though it can be challenging, fostering culture is easier with the right digital tools by your side. Here, we’ll walk you through promoting a culture of safety and how a digital solution can help leaders drive improvement throughout the workplace.
What does a good safety culture look like?
Safety culture, as defined by the government of Queensland, is an embodiment of the value placed on safety and the extent to which personnel take personal responsibility for safety within the workplace. In other words, it’s the shared understanding of safety and how safety procedures are perceived throughout the company.
A positive safety culture ensures that all employees — leadership included — understand their WHS obligations and take ownership of their behaviour. Generally, positive safety cultures will share a few common characteristics:
- Safety is leadership’s top priority.
- All employees, leaders and managers are held accountable for their actions.
- Leadership is open to feedback and discussing safety with their employees.
- Improvement is a continuous process.
- Everyone identifies and mitigates risk.
- Leaders provide access to safety training and information to all employees.
Where to begin: Inductions, training and onboarding
It’s important to note that safety culture isn’t limited to the production floor or the job site. It’s imperative that this culture starts at the top and works its way to the bottom.
According to McKinsey, employee mindsets often reflect those of their leaders due to their expertise. By modeling positive safety practices from the managerial level, you can in turn influence your workforce to do the same. That’s what makes the induction process so impactful on workplace safety.
The onboarding process is the first opportunity to transfer safety knowledge down to new employees. By tying training back to WHS best practices at every stage of the induction, you can instill a sense of ownership and embed safety as a priority from the very beginning of their tenure.
However, leaders often lack the resources to properly train employees on WHS because of their reliance on pen-and-paper methods. Without the necessary tools, it can be especially difficult to manage many inductees who are at varying stages of their onboarding process.
An effective way to streamline and amplify this effort is by deploying a digital solution. Digitising inductions allows you to track progress and ensure that all requisite training has been completed before new hires perform certain tasks. Better yet, it’s an accessible and more engaging learning experience.
Embracing a proactive safety culture
One of the most significant qualities of a positive safety culture is a state of continuous improvement. But to reach this level of maturity, leaders need to embrace a proactive approach to WHS.
In other words, you should be continuously performing safety procedures, identifying risks and mitigating hazards before they spiral into an incident. This enables your business to prevent workplace accidents rather than only responding to them after the fact.
However, achieving continuous improvement is difficult — if not impossible — if managers lack the proper tools. Paper-based processes offer few insights into your safety processes, can’t be easily traced across the organisation and are too slow to prevent workplace accidents.
With a digital WHS solution, leaders can track incidents, risks and return to work in real time. This visibility empowers you to optimise safety management and drive these processes forward. More importantly, digital solutions can be taken on the go, meaning all employees can report risks on the job as soon as they’re identified.
In an age where workplace fatalities are on a recent uptick in occurrence, per Safe Work Australia, preventative measures are a must. Equipping your workforce with digital safety tools is the advantage your leadership needs to foster culture and steer clear of danger.
Promoting accountability throughout your organisation
As previously mentioned, everyone has a part to play in workplace health and safety. In a perfect world, you could trust that all employees, managers and leaders are fulfilling their responsibilities effectively and efficiently. But then again, if the world was perfect you wouldn’t need to worry about WHS in the first place.
Accountability is a staple of any positive safety culture. Unfortunately, pen-and-paper recordkeeping systems make it difficult to hold everyone accountable for their actions. That’s why a centralised WHS management system is essential to your modern business.
Using a centralised system allows you to ensure all stakeholders are performing their safety duties. Through one source of truth, you can view tasks in real time and keep track of in-progress or outstanding business actions and forms. Simply put, an integrated management system allows you to make sure managers are practicing what they preach.
Whether you’re starting from scratch or reshaping your existing culture, workplace health and safety ought to be a key piece of the puzzle. And if Lucidity’s 20-plus years of experience in the safety industry have taught us anything, it’s that pen-and-paper systems can hold your culture back.
Our cloud-based HSEQ management solution is designed to streamline procedures, simplify management and empower you to foster a culture of workplace safety from top to bottom.
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