Leaders2Leaders: How Can You Maintain a Safety Culture Over the Long Term?

Avoid focusing too much on a top-down approach to safety culture. Employees must feel they own health and safety in their individual workplaces.
Avoid focusing too much on a top-down approach to safety culture. Employees must feel they own health and safety in their individual workplaces.

To be truly effective, health and safety needs to move beyond policy and become rooted deep into the culture of the organisation.

Great safety cultures do not happen by chance. The best safety cultures are continuous works in progress and need careful managing by health and safety leaders. As we learn in the sixth episode of Leaders2Leaders, “How Can You Maintain a Safety Culture Over the Long Term?” culture and culture improvement cannot be limited to small pockets of the business. It must run from senior leadership through to the shop floor and even embrace third-party contractors, according to a group of five safety leaders from companies noted for their world-class safety cultures.

“People ask me, how many people I have in my safety organisation? My answer? About 58,000, because that’s roughly the number of people working for us. The moment you accept that safety is just the responsibility of the country’s safety manager, you are too far away from where you need to be,” said Wim Koster, Head of Global Safety, KONE.

Take Your Safety Culture from Good to Great

According to the experts, organisations should take these steps to create a safety culture or take your existing culture from good to great:

  • Be consistent in your approach. Too many new programmes can erode worker confidence and engagement.
  • Be culturally sensitive and flexible in how you deliver global safety initiatives at a local level.
  • Avoid focusing too much on a top-down approach to safety culture. Employees must feel they own health and safety in their individual workplaces.

It’s important to be flexible, said James Pomeroy, Group Health, Safety, Environment and Security Director, Lloyd’s Register. About four years ago, Lloyd’s Register had a very centralized model for safety with one operating system and one method for safety. They’ve reined back and although they maintain a global focus on life critical and behavioral framework, operating units and locations can innovate and try new programs in other areas of safety management.

“We all operate globally. There are subtleties [in organizational culture and safety culture depending on the location of the facility]… Be comfortable that there [could be] slight variances in that approach. Be more focused on outcomes than on the approach itself,” Pomeroy suggested.

“One message can fit everybody, but one size and way of doing it has to be adapted to the culture as well. You have to allow freedom and flexibility and that way [the employees] own it,” added Ratna Morjaria, Global ESH Director, Evonik. “Because if they don’t own it, it’s not going to go anywhere.”

Watch Episode 6 – How Can You Maintain a Safety Culture Over the Long Term? – now.

New Video Series: Leaders2Leaders

This programme brings together some of the smartest, most forward-looking professionals in the industry to discuss the key issues facing health and safety today. Lessons from Leaders is a companion eBook that highlights health and safety: where we are and where we’re going.

Health and safety today is more complex and dynamic than ever. The world is experiencing significant changes in how, when and where work happens. Today, employees are just as likely to be contractors as they are to be permanent staff, and workers are placing greater emphasis on their wider mental and physical wellbeing. 

Watch the first five episodes and download the companion guide: Lessons from Leaders.

Previous blog posts:

Safe+Sound Week and Leaders2Leaders: What Should Today’s Health & Safety Professionals Prioritize?

L2L Episode 2: What Are the Key Barriers to Gaining Better Visibility in Health & Safety Today?

L2L Episode 3: How Are You Tracking and Managing all the Compliance Issues You Face Day-to-Day?

L2L Episode 4: How Do You Get Executives on Board with Health & Safety Initiatives?

L2L Episode 5: What Impact Are the Advances in Technology Having on Health & Safety Today?

This entry was posted in EHSQ and tagged , , by Sandy Smith. Bookmark the permalink.

About Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the Global EHSQ Content Lead for Intelex Technologies. Formerly the Content Director for EHS Today, she has been writing about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990. Her work as a journalist and editor has been recognized with national and international awards. She has been interviewed about occupational safety and health for national business publications, documentaries and television programs; has served as a panelist on roundtables; and has provided the keynote address for occupational safety and health conferences.

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