When we discuss safety in the workplace, what comes to mind? Construction? Manufacturing? Transportation and Shipping? While some industries inherently have a greater safety risk than others, hazards exist in all workplaces, even your typical office environment. Just think about carbon monoxide poisoning, slips and falls, electrocution, overexertion, ergonomic injuries and communicable diseases.
While the degree of impact to your workforce and bottom line will vary from risk to risk, there’s one thing that won’t — the preventative action a positive safety culture provides.
What is a Positive Safety Culture?
While safety should be at the heart of every business, some organizations find themselves continually falling short. Why? Because they haven’t adopted a positive safety culture. According to OSHA, a safety culture consists 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.
The development of a strong safety culture in the workplace has the greatest impact on reducing incidents.
Developing a safety culture takes time, effort and perseverance. Safety beliefs and values must be aligned throughout the entire organization from the top down. OSHA states, “Top managers must be on board. If they are not, safety and health will compete against core business issues such as production and profitability, a battle that will almost always be lost. They need to understand the need for change and be willing to support it.”
10 Benefits of a Positive Safety Culture
When your business adopts a positive safety culture, it creates a win-win situation for both the business owner and the business’ employees. Here are the top 10 benefits of a positive safety culture:
- Creates productive work environments. Properly managed safety programs show management’s commitment to their employees’ safety, in turn creating an environment of trust which leads to greater cooperation with safe work methods.
- Reduces absenteeism. Healthy, injury-free employees need less time off than those affected by incidents and accidents.
- Promotes higher standards for safety, cleanliness, and housekeeping.
- Makes employees feel appreciated and improves employee morale. Employees feel that their safety and wellbeing on the job matters, and they, in turn, matter.
- Reduces workplace injuries and crashes and reduces workers’ compensation insurance costs. Workers’ Compensation insurance claims decrease, in turn lowering your EMR (emergency room rate). This is a benefit to any company required to prequalify to work as a lower rate gives you a better grade with your clients.
- Ensures protection of the organization’s most valuable asset – its people.
- Enables a company to win and retain business customers.
- Creates an environment where safety improvements are considered, encouraged, and implemented. In turn, workers feel like they are part of the safety solution.
- Enhances the brand value and goodwill for an organization. It only makes sense; businesses want to work with other businesses that are safe.
- Enhances an organization’s ability to operate smoothly. A safe workplace helps avoid excessive costs and disruptions.
There is no quick and easy, overnight fix when it comes to creating a positive safety culture at your business. However, a long-term commitment from your entire management team combined with willingness to invest in your employees’ safety will help to create the positive safety culture everyone can be proud of.