Building a strong and sound safety culture isn’t rocket science, but it does take a lot of time and effort if you want to get it right. And you do. Want to get it right that is.
A lot of time, culture comes down to ’how we do things around here’. This is both good and bad. Good because you as a manager have the power to manage ‘how we do things’ and bad because if you’re not paying attention your whole team and culture can derail with the blink of an eye.
At Safety Training Scotland we’ve been in the health and safety industry for many years and we’ve seen both extremely well-nurtured cultures and very poor health and safety cultures. We’ve gathered a list of our top tips for nurturing and maintaining a great and safe culture so that you can learn from others’ mistakes instead of wasting your time making your own.
Let’s crack on with our list of ways that you can really boost your health and safety culture:
1- Put safety first and mean it
The only way you’re going to create and maintain a vigilant and strong safety culture is if employees know that it’s a serious matter and that senior management are onboard as well.
By talking about health and safety in your organisation regularly, for example through toolbox talks, you build up a lot of trust between middle managers, employees and senior management. This might not seem like that big a deal at the time but can really help promote open dialogue in the future should an employee experience a near miss or an accident.
Should an accident or a near- miss occur, you need to get to the bottom of how it happened and what the cause was so that you can work to prevent it in the future. If employees do not feel there is sufficient support or that health and safety is taken seriously, then chances are you’ll never hear of the near misses and you accident reports will likely be inaccurate.
2- Get senior management actively involved
Not only do senior management need to be onboard, they also need to lead by example. Obvious and wholehearted involvement from the management team when it comes to health and safety can boost team morale and motivation.
Great managers can often be found on the shop floor demonstrating their commitment to making the workplace better by chatting to employees about; how they’re getting on; if they’re experiencing any problems in their day to day, and what they’re working on at the moment.
It comes without saying that the concern and commitment needs to be genuine or at the very least appear genuine, otherwise, employees will assume that your interest is rooted in numbers and corporate ‘box- checking’.
3- It all starts with a fantastic induction
Make sure that all new employees start with a comprehensive induction programme that covers health and safety in the organisation.
It’s super easy to pick up bad habits from Susan and Joe that have gotten lazy over the years and are now passing on safety malpractice to new starts subconsciously.
Setting strong foundations for new employee habits is much easier than it is changing them in a years time when you realise that things are going in the wrong direction.
4- Offer a range of PPE to your employees
Traditionally, PPE was a one size fits all kind of deal, and it still is in many places.
If you’re a size large guy then chances are normal PPE will fit you like a dream. But if you’re a petite guy or a girl then the protective clothing you might need to wear will likely be both disproportionate and uncomfortable.
A lot has happened in the world or protective equipment and clothing and it now comes in all shapes and sizes.
If employees spend a significant amount of time in their PPE you should make sure that they are comfortable!
It’s a nifty idea to form a small PPE committee that can discuss requirements, wants and needs.
Remember to make sure that the people in your committee are a well-represented sample of the workplace.
5- Introduce a health and safety notice board
If you’ve got a canteen or a kitchen, or even if you have an empty wall in the office then why not pop up a health and safety notice board.
Using a board to show good practise health and safety, news, manual handling techniques and whatever else you think might be useful for employees is a cost-effective way to keep staff informed and to keep health and safety at the top of their mind.
6- Bring toolbox talks into your weekly meetings
A toolbox talk is a short and very casual catch up on a very specific topic (related to health and safety).
When you brush up on H&S with your team regularly you make sure everyone is up to speed and know their basic health and safety.
Sending whole teams away for health and safety training is expensive and time-consuming. Send a few guys away for the full training course and keep the rest of the team posted with weekly or daily toolbox talks depending on what industry you’re in and how many health and safety concerns you’ve got.
7- Consistency is key
Consistency is key when it comes to building a strong and sound safety culture.
Let Bob get away with walking across a production floor without safety-shoes and before you know if you’ll have a small army of rule deviating employees. Not because they’re actively not wanting to follow your rules but because of the slow but steady normalisation of deviation. The ‘If one person does it, then I can do it too’ attitude.
About Safety Training Scotland
Safety Training Scotland was founded in 2013 and has since delivered IOSH health and safety courses to over 2000 successful delegates. From training young people just starting out their career to senior level staff, we’re passionate about hanging the negative perception of health and safety training. At Safety Training Scotland, we see it our finest mission to put an end to ‘death by powerpoint’ and make H&S training interesting and engaging.