Creating A Health & Safety Culture

selection of people in a meeting


The development of organisational culture and change is essential in the rapidly changing environment which most organisations operate. Cultures and as such organisations can be changed through:


In positive climates new rules and procedures are easily accepted and unnecessary rules are kept to a minimum. Management focus is on getting the best people for each job rather than having strict long lines of authority.


Employees can be better motivated if they are allowed to complete tasks without constantly having to ask for approval. Delegation is the key, with people knowing exactly what they are responsible for.


In organisations with poor cultures there is little emphasis on improving performance. Where realistic goals are set and feedback is given on a regular basis individuals will be able to improve their performance, especially if they are able to be involved in the objectives and goal setting process.

Rewards & Recognition

Employees rewards should be in relation to the quality of their input to meeting the organisational goals. Development opportunities should reward and improve performance.

Team commitment

People need to be loyal to the organisation, if they are proud to belong they will co-operate to get the job done. Any conflicts in the team must be dealt with quickly to ensure good co-operation.


Managers are able to directly influence their employees ability to excel by using an appropriate leadership style. This may depend on the demands of the situation and the people they are having to deal with. Many organisations practice 360 degree appraisals to ensure the links between managers and
employees are effective for the individual and the organisation.

The management of critical incidents.

These need to be dealt with calmly and without panic.

Role modelling, training and coaching by leaders

Opinions and behaviours may be changed by effective social interaction. Enormous amounts of written memos and safety instructions are unlikely to bring about change. However practical sessions where issues are discussed and work procedures developed may be effective by allowing people to be involved in the process. The closer that teams and small groups work together the more effective the change because any fears may be voiced and dealt with before they escalate into low moral and poor motivation.

For an organisation to develop and change there needs to be a planned organisation wide effort, managed from the top.

Success in business is often determined by how effective an organisation manages cultural change. That is success is not achieved by an executive’s skills alone, nor by the visible features – the strategy, structure and reward system – of the organisation. Every organisation has an invisible quality – a certain style, a character, a way of doing things – that may be more powerful than the dictates of any one person or any formal system. This invisible quality ‘the corporate culture’ dictates how effective the organisation is in the marketplace. Many organisations however simply do not recognise the need for cultural change.

Creating a Health & Safety Culture

Adopting a cultural change strategy to create an adaptive culture, requires risk and trust; employees must actively support one another’s efforts to identify problems and sponsor cultural change initiatives. This can only be accomplished by a very conscious, well-planned and united effort at managing cultural
change, the secret to which is first establishing trust!

In organisations needing to effect cultural change to become more adaptive, flexible and responsive to modern times, some of the cultural norms often listed are:

• Treat everyone with respect and as a potential source of valuable insight and expertise

• Be willing to take on responsibility

• Initiate changes to improve performance

• Congratulate those who suggest new ideas and new ways of doing things

• Be cost conscious

• Speak with pride about your organisation and work group

• Budget your time according to the importance of tasks for accomplishing objectives

• Don’t criticise the organisation in front of clients or customers

• Enjoy your work and show enthusiasm for a job well done

• Be helpful and supportive of other groups in the organisation

• Self monitoring is an effective tool as 80-90% of all accidents result form human activities, therefore looking after ourselves and ensuring others do the right thing is an important stage to improving safety culture.

• Improving perception of safety throughout the organisation. In some cases senior managements view of safety will be more optimistic that that of the lower management and front line staff.

• Care and concern for staff is important

• Democracy

• Do not say “accidents are bound to happen”

• Non work problems may influence behaviour at work and therefore the employer need systems in place to deal with these issues should they arise.

Creating a positive culture

• Eliminate unnecessary rules ad procedures & Give employees authority to make decisions
• Set realistic goals & Communicate the organisational goals
• Ensure everyone knows how they fit into the organisation
• Reward and recognise good work & Set clear responsibilities
• Ensure people take ownership
• Establish effective communication channels
• Make people proud to be part of the organisation

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