Safety and having a “healthy safety culture” are buzz-words we hear a lot in our industry, and for good reason. But what exactly does is mean to have a healthy safety culture? Let’s take a step back for a moment and look at this subject from the 30,000-foot view.
According to OSHA, “Safety cultures consist of shared beliefs, practices and attitudes that exist at an establishment. Culture is the atmosphere created by those beliefs, attitudes, etc., which shape our behavior.” By definition, this makes safety culture difficult to measure. How do you measure values, attitudes and beliefs? Mark Middlesworth, founder of Ergonomics Plus, has published a whitepaper entitled “25 Signs You Have an Awesome Safety Culture” which lays out some very telling and helpful indicators by which we can gauge just how “healthy” our company’s safety culture is. Here are a few examples of the signs Mark defines in his article:
- There is visible leadership commitment at all levels of the organization
- All employees throughout the organization exhibit a working knowledge of health and safety topics
- There is a lack of competing priorities – safety comes in first every time!
- Opportunities for improvement are identified and resolved before a problem occurs
- Managers spend an adequate amount of time out on the shop floor, where the people are
- Employees feel comfortable reporting safety issues to their supervisors
- Rewards and recognition of good behaviors are regularly given
- Safety is viewed as an investment, not a cost
- All employees throughout the organization are empowered with the necessary resources and authority to find and fix problems as they see them
When we use these indicators as a lens, the big picture becomes much more clear.
So, how does McKenney’s fare when we look at our own safety culture this way? I’m proud to say that based on these signs, and the others defined by Mark in his paper, we have a very strong and healthy safety culture! As long as we continue to make safety our priority across this company, I think it’s safe to say we have an Awesome Safety Culture.
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