Safe Work Manitoba’s chief operating officer, Jamie Hall, shared what he believes are the keys to a strong safety culture at the Safety Services Manitoba conference in Winnipeg on Wednesday.
OHS concerns are addressed: Whatever method a workplace uses to identify hazards and mitigate the risk — an occupational health and safety process, a program or a formalized safety management system — gives a strong indication of a positive safety culture, said Hall.
“If values and beliefs drive practices and actions, then we should be able to see those practices and actions in a systematic way in a workplace,” he said.
Leadership commitment: An organization with a positive safety culture has leaders that are adopting voluntary standards and going “above and beyond” to focus on safety and emphasize its importance to the workplace, Hall said.
Trust and respect: Some workplace safety and health committees are dysfunctional; others are functioning just fine; but then there are those that rise above mere compliance — and these are the ones operating in a workplace with a positive safety culture.
“The members of the committee put aside their roles, put aside their titles and realize we are all here for the same reason: we are all here to look after the people that are in our workplace. And when that happens, when you can build that trust and respect… you know you have another positive element of a strong safety culture,” said Hall.
Hall noted that trust and respect is often seen first in the workplace safety and health committees before it permeates the rest of the workplace.
Accountability: In order to have a positive safety culture, all individuals in the workplace need to understand the system is here for their benefit and hold themselves accountable and responsible.
“The actions you can observe is people saying ‘We look after each other. Yes I have a responsibility for my own safety, but (also) everyone else’s,’” Hall said.
Inclusiveness: Safety programs and policies must include everybody, such as contract workers, to ensure not only a strong safety and health program, but as a much stronger safety culture.
“Diversity in a workplace is a strength and should not only be celebrated but leveraged,” Hall said.
Continuous improvement: An organization with a positive safety culture has an “inquiring attitude to becoming better,” said Hall. This may be through the development of leaders and workers with regard to safety or the inclusion of safety in strategic planning.
“It’s the recognition that safety isn’t a destination, it’s a continuous journey and we need to be continuously learning and improving.”