Creating a Safety Culture

A safety officer named Lisa is responsible for the lives of thousands of airline passengers on any given day. As she maintains the security of those who visit the airport, morale among the transportation agents is low. Unfortunately, her terminal is closing, and employees will be sent to other airports in the area in a few months. This means a change in position, a longer commute, and less job security. As a result, agents haven’t been as diligent in their safety procedures as usual. It is up to Lisa to ensure compliance and maintain the same standards regardless of the closure, but it is difficult for her to motivate her staff to continue operating with as high a caliber as before.

Lisa is experiencing a threat to her workplace safety culture.

There are many different reasons a workplace can face challenges in promoting and sustaining safety and security. There may be complacency in routine tasks or a large staff turnover. Safe practices may not be reinforced by top management and supervisors. Employees may be resistant to change and revert to “business as usual.” Lack of attentiveness to safety in the workplace could lead to accidents, lost time, reputational damage, or compromised cybersecurity.

So, how can you ensure your workplace has a strong and sustained safety culture?

It starts with strategic action at the leadership level. Creating actionable steps toward a goal will promote engagement throughout your organization. Task staff managers with small, manageable changes to help guide all employees. Leverage the human resources department to provide information on educational and training opportunities for the entire organization. When even c-suite level leaders participate, it demonstrates a willingness to adopt change and places value on the effort being made.

Host discussions to bring different voices to the conversation. No one disagrees with their own ideas. Open discussions shed light on a variety of challenges from all sectors of the organization. Creating a knowledge exchange helps employees learn and grow. Identify achievements and threats and determine specific milestones to meet your safety goals. It is critical to ensure all individuals are represented. Does your safety culture make considerations of the needs of persons with disabilities and access and functional needs? Are those included in your plans and policies? What improvements can you make to ensure everyone’s needs are met?

Changing a safety culture can’t be made at a single level or department. Enlist help from a variety of people and give them a voice by asking for suggestions and solutions. Integrate feedback into your planning process and create actionable steps to improve and sustain those ideas. Model the new safety expectations and recognize achievements within the organization. Providing ownership allows for accountability and inclusion. Not sure where to start? Write down the top two action items identified through discussion and observations and determine strategies to make an effort toward safety.

The biggest challenge is the resistance to change. Continuous efforts to improve the culture will help overcome those barriers. Ongoing opportunities for discussion, training, and rehearsal keeps safety at the forefront. Create active, enriching content to gain higher participation and interest.

If you need help getting started, we’d love to be your partner in achieving your goals. Contact us today! 

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