Safety culture, or the way safety is perceived, valued and prioritised in an organisation, not only has an obvious and direct effect on accident rates, it also impacts on productivity, reliability, competitiveness and even employee morale.
But What Exactly Is Safety Culture?Perhaps one of the best definitions of safety culture comes from UK-based Health and Safety Executive:
‘Safety culture’ is defined as “the product of individual and group values, attitudes, perceptions, competencies, and patterns of behaviour that determine commitment to, and the style and proficiency of, an organisation’s health and safety management”.
Put quite simply safety culture is the combination of attitudes, beliefs, values, taboos, peer pressure and perceptions held by your organisation, and how those elements work together to influence how you operate.
Culture is a major contributor to workplace behaviour, and behaviour determines the effectiveness of your risk control. Therefore, culture and workplace safety are inherently linked.
It's well and good to know what safety culture is, but how exactly do you measure it? Culture by its very nature is intangible and deeply subjective to each person. Transforming those beliefs and attitudes into data that could inform a robust workplace safety plan has been a challenge for WHS professionals.
Measurement Tools Are Now Available
The good news is that new tools are offering unprecedented insights into safety culture. Safety climate is typically measured through questionnaires that explore an individual’s attitudes and perceptions regarding safety.
One tool is the Health and Safety Laboratory's ground-breaking Safety Climate Tool (SCT), to which WSH has an exclusive license.
The SCT is a reliable and robust psychometric instrument for measuring safety climate. It consists of 40 statements which map onto eight key factors and measure employee’s attitudes on health and safety issues.
The SCT is an online portal that allows a questionnaire to be created and tailored to the specific needs of an individual organisation. It can even be customised to reflect the look and feel of an organisation by use of branding and corporate values and language.
The information gained through the SCT paints a detailed picture about the safety culture of your organisation.
Benefits Of Measuring Your Safety Culture
- Assist with the proactive management of health and safety - the results provide objective data that allows companies to highlight areas of concern as well as good practice.
- Demonstrate credentials as an organisation continually striving to improve its health and safety performance.
- Raise the profile of health and safety - participating in a survey engages the workforce and encourages them to talk
- Indicate organisational readiness for embarking on behavioural safety programs.
- Provide a baseline measure - outputs from the tool can help to assess where to invest resource and evaluate whether subsequent initiatives have had the desired effects on performance.
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