Page of | Results - of

Main image for news

Creating a Strong Workplace Safety Culture at Your Organization

By Alliant Specialty

Listen to the audio version:

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), developing a strong workplace safety culture has the single greatest impact on accident reduction of any workplace practice. In fact, the latest available data shows that implementing safety measures has resulted in a decrease of worker injuries and illnesses – from 10.9 incidents per 100 workers in 1972 to 2.7 per 100 in 2022.

Establishing a robust workplace safety culture and prioritizing employee well-being at your organization can lead to higher rates of productivity and streamlined operations.

Key Components of an Organization’s Workplace Safety Culture

An organization’s workplace safety culture is a direct result of the following factors:

  • Management and employee norms, assumptions and beliefs
  • Management and employee attitudes
  • Values, myths and stories
  • Policies and procedures
  • Supervisor priorities, responsibilities and accountability
  • Production and bottom line pressure versus quality issues
  • Actions or lack thereof to correct unsafe behaviors
  • Employee training and motivation
  • Employee involvement and buy-in during the process

A company’s safety culture is a reflection of the organization’s overarching culture and the people who work in it. As a result, most employees will generate their perceptions of safety and its importance based on the attitude their employer projects. In addition, employees who are part of a safety culture are more likely to feel engaged in their work. A meta-analysis by Gallup, Inc. reported that companies with engaged employees achieved a 70% reduction in safety incidents, demonstrating that employee engagement, safety and overall progress toward company-wide goals go hand-in-hand.

Types of Workplace Safety Cultures

There are four main types of safety cultures commonly held by companies in the United States. They include:

A company with a forced safety culture uses bribes and threats to motivate employees to keep safety top of mind. Health and safety officers at these organizations are seen as police-like figures because of their constant need to enforce codes and rules. In these cultures, the employees’ fear of punishment is overwhelming and results in lackluster performance, creating an unenjoyable work environment.

A company with an involved safety culture hosts several training sessions for its employees, but members of top management do not attend. This can help create a relaxed feeling for employees where they don’t feel micromanaged for their behaviors by their managers. Though morale is higher at organizations with involved cultures because safety officers are not constantly policing employee actions, they also run the risk of not being as safe as they could potentially be. Management should be integrated into the safety culture to make it flourish.

A company with a protective safety culture prescribes a substantial number of rules and regulations onto their employees. If an employee violates a rule, it may prompt management to create stricter policies and procedures. This ultimately creates confusion, as there are too many regulating factors in place.

A company with an integral safety culture provides an abundance of safety training for employees, which are attended by individuals at all levels. In these organizations, safety officers have budgets and authority and enforce rules when appropriate. This type of workplace safety culture is the ideal approach, empowering everyone to feel responsible for safety and go beyond the “call of duty” to identify unsafe conditions and behaviors, and to intervene to correct them when necessary.

Promoting an Integral Safety Culture at Your Organization

Use these strategies to develop a fully integrated culture of safety at your company:

  • Develop a workplace safety vision including key policies, goals, measures, and strategic and operational plans.
  • Implement a “buddy system” in which experienced individuals are paired up with newer workers and can demonstrate safe work procedures.
  • Encourage all employees to watch out for others. In doing so, develop safety responsibilities for all levels of the organization.
  • Align management and supervisors by establishing a shared vision of safety and health goals, and objectives versus production.
  • Implement a process that holds management accountable for being visibly involved, setting the proper example and leading a positive change for the benefits of safety and health.
  • Ensure managers make themselves available during worker orientation and introduction sessions.
  • Implement safe work practices and prescribe the mentality that unsafe actions are not tolerated.
  • Make health and safety part of workplace communications.
  • Encourage workers to report health and safety concerns that they encounter and respond to their concerns in a timely fashion. Provide multiple paths for employees to bring suggestions, concerns and problems forward.
  • Develop a system for tracking and ensuring the timeliness of hazard corrections.
  • Create a system for reporting near-miss accidents, injuries and the need for first aid.
  • Promote safety training sessions and host emergency response training.
  • Maintain safety equipment and ensure it is worn properly by employees.
  • Revise incentives and disciplinary systems to accommodate safety and health concerns.

Creating an effective workplace safety culture is an integral part of loss control efforts, empowering your organization to protect employees, safeguard assets and control costs. Alliant can help you adhere to these best practices with tailor-made safety and risk management services for your unique market. Contact Alliant for more assistance with your employee safety needs.

Alliant note and disclaimer: This document is designed to provide general information and guidance. Please note that prior to implementation your legal counsel should review all details or policy information. Alliant Insurance Services does not provide legal advice or legal opinions. If a legal opinion is needed, please seek the services of your own legal advisor or ask Alliant Insurance Services for a referral. This document is provided on an “as is” basis without any warranty of any kind. Alliant Insurance Services disclaims any liability for any loss or damage from reliance on this document.