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So You Say You Want a Safety Culture

We hear the term Safety Culture thrown around a lot today.

But does it mean anything?

Are managers just giving it lip service? Do employees make it a part of their everyday work?

By itself, the term culture is defined as a collective commitment to values embedded within us. Like a habit – culture is a behavior that happens automatically.

Add the word safety to that and Safety Culture sounds good.

However, the 2017 National Safety Survey by Environmental Health and Safety Today says that safety professionals nationwide report that budgets, increasing work responsibilities and a relaxed regulatory environment are still reasons for concern.

So, what’s wrong?

To answer that we need to look at where we’re at, where we want to be, and how we get there.

What Safety Looks Like Today

In the 2017 EHS Today survey, industry professionals said that budget and personnel concerns, plus a perception of relaxed governmental regulations are all reasons to be worried about today’s Safety Culture.

However, statistics do show an upside – 82% of safety managers report more support from top management and 71% report increased budgets for occupational health and safety. The downside is that in practice, safety resources are stretched. Safety Culture is a popular sentiment, but the organizational commitment is not yet second nature.

Survey respondents further request these wish list items :

  • Established programs that comply with laws, plus the appropriate automation, training, procedures and incentives that go with the programs.
  • Directing resources toward occupational health, fire protection, ergonomics, risk management and environmental compliance concerns.
  • A government administration that does not cut regulations but supports standards, compliance and enforcement.

Part of the issue is that safety has been given lip service. Maybe this sounds familiar – Yes, safety is job one… Yes, we have people in operations or HR who handle it… Yes, we have a safety policy… Yes, we still have the same slips, trips and falls.

Where Safety Needs to Change

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the workplace is getting safer.

But is that true?

OSHA reports tens of thousands of severe injuries on the job across the United States, sometimes with permanent consequences to themselves and their families:

  • Every year, more than 4.1 million workers suffer a serious job-related injury or illness.
  • Most general-industry incidents involve slips, trips, and falls, causing 15% of all accidental deaths.
  • Every day, more than 12 workers die on the job – 4,500-plus employees per year

Still, there is good news. OSHA’s figures have a silver lining. The workplace is getting safer. It would be improbable that there would never be another accident. But bad habits are truly being replaced with good habits. Behaviors are evolving.

Prevention can be brought about by working  together.  Changing how we behave.

Buckle Up, We’re Diving Deep Into This Topic

Over the next couple of weeks we’re going to dig more. Covering the what, how, and why of developing a true safety culture. So, please stay tuned.

And, in the mean time, grab the eBook:

About The Author

Toby Graham

Toby manages the marketing communications team here at KPA. She's on a quest to help people tell clear, fun stories that their audience can relate to. She's a HUGE sugar junkie...and usually starts wandering the halls looking for cookies around 3pm daily.

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