How to Create a Safety Culture

We all know how important safety is in our industry. You’d be hard-pressed to find a plant manager who didn’t insist that safety is paramount in their day-to-day operations. Plenty of us focus on compliance, training and equipment maintenance in order to create a safe workplace.

These efforts are certainly part of the safety equation, but the glue that holds it all together—and amplifies your efforts at every level—is an underlying culture of safety.

Wondering how to create a company culture that champions safety? We’ve got you covered.


Why it’s Important

Let’s start with the basics—like why safety is so important. To begin with, safety is directly tied to your bottom line. According to OSHA, business costs associated with occupational injuries tally up to around $170 billion. Ouch.

OSHA also reports that one factor alone has the single greatest impact on reducing injuries and accidents: developing a strong safety culture.

Consider the savings attached to improved job site safety. Beyond lower insurance premiums and medical expenditures, a safe workplace leads to all manner of indirect benefits. Think: increased productivity, higher quality goods and reduced turnover. And perhaps most importantly, improved morale.

The best-skilled workers want to work in a place where they feel safe. And protecting your people is simply good business.

Get Everyone Onboard

The success of any safety initiative depends upon its adoption—and acceptance—by your entire team, from the crew on the floor to upper management. You know you’ve shifted company culture when safety is on par with core values like quality, productivity, and profitability.

The best way to get everyone on board is to write out a safety program that defines roles and responsibilities and sets up a system of accountability. Don’t get too bogged down here, as a realistic, streamlined document is often the most effective approach.

Communicate Goals

“OSHA reports that one factor alone has the single greatest impact on reducing injuries and accidents: developing a strong safety culture.”

Communicating your safety goals and objectives across the company is the next step in making sure everyone is on the same page. Make no mistake, this is not a one-time effort. Sure, you may spend a bit more time laying out your overall goals initially once you’ve got your safety program down on paper. However, to successfully instill a culture of safety, you’ve got to keep the lines of communication open.

That means regular verbal reminders about the specific objectives you’re trying to achieve. Regular check-ins are also important, so you can assess how you’re doing, then make any adjustments that may be necessary to stay in line with your goals. Weekly safety meetings are a great start, and monthly company meetings should also dedicate some time to checking in with your safety goals.

Empower Employees

Equip your employees with the training, materials and resources they need to achieve your company’s safety goals. Empowering your employees also equates to establishing trust by giving them a voice—and, equally important, an opportunity to be heard.

It’s crucial for employees to feel comfortable raising concerns and reporting issues; everyone must feel free to speak up to supervisors and other team members about concerns.

Under-reporting incidents is a common problem when it comes to safety. Once employees become more comfortable speaking up, don’t be surprised to see an uptick in incidents reported. This is actually a good sign—not a cause for alarm—and will soon level off.

Celebrate Victories

In a company culture that holds employees accountable for their safety performance, it’s only fair to celebrate wins as well. This means everything from recognizing employees with stellar safety records to celebratory company lunches when a safety goal is reached or surpassed. When you’re all in it together, any success feels like an achievement and can boost morale across the board.

Creating a company culture that’s committed to safety is an ongoing process that involves every employee. The rewards are well worth the continued effort, from cost savings and improved efficiency to attracting both clients and top talent alike. It pays to be a safety leader, and not only for the significant financial impact.

Protecting the employees that you’re committed to keeping safe is the biggest reward of all.