What are the key elements of an effective safety culture?

By Ed Smith, freelance journalist.

An effective safety culture can be the key to avoiding accidents at work. If an organisation’s culture doesn’t provide the right environment and standards, not only can accidents happen but employees may not feel safe at work. This could also cost the company large amounts of money in the long run. So, what are the key elements of an effective safety culture?

The importance of safety culture

Reducing safety concerns is key to providing a productive environment for employees. Taking steps to reduce risk in the workplace will allow staff to feel like they can trust the organisation they work for and use power tools, heavy machinery and other equipment safely.

In case an accident does happen, employees will feel like they can seek help from their employer instead of having to worry about blame, costs and taking time off work. This will allow productivity to increase in the workplace. Additionally, good safety standards can help save money in case of accidents – with legal costs, replacement fees and insurance claims being avoided where possible.

Key elements of an effective safety culture

Responsibility from top to bottom

Responsibility for safety and awareness needs to start with senior management and include every employee in the company. This can be done through the appropriate allocation of resources and possibly by setting up a safety committee. Employees should know who to contact in case of an injury and should feel comfortable discussing any issues of liability.

A commitment to health and safety over costs is very important and should allow everyone in the company to feel included.

Communication and training

Communication is key during production to reduce the risk of an accident. Training can help prevent accidents and let employees know what to do if a co-worker injures themselves at work. It can be useful to offer training material online that employees always have access to whenever they may need to review certain information. Additionally, making training sessions easily available, either during work hours or after work, will make attending them easier.

Appropriate tools, equipment and PPE

Employers are required to provide the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), which will increase safety standards, even where certain systems and measurements are already in place. Basic items that should be worn in hazardous environments include high-visibility clothing which can offer important awareness and protection. Helmets, eye protection and gloves will also help keep people safe in relevant scenarios.

Regular reviews and updates

The H&S booklet shouldn’t be tossed to the back of the office and forgotten. Instead, it should be accessible and frequently reviewed. Organisations need to carry out regular assessments, updates and training which will reinforce the culture.  

Accountability

Reporting accidents and accountability on the side of workers and employers is key to developing effective processes and guidance. Communication between workers will also strengthen safety culture in an organisation.

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