Is there a culture club?

For this years World Day for Safety and Health at Work the ILO are asking organisations across the world to ‘Act together to build a positive safety and health culture’.

Here’s our pointers:

  • Truly understand your culture today
  • Know how to build a positive H&S culture
  • Promote a strong culture within your workplace
  • Top tips for building a great health and safety culture whatever your workplace is

Everyone deserves to go home at the end of the day in the same way as they entered their place of work. It doesn’t matter WHAT that type of work is.

What’s your culture like when it comes to H&S within your workplace?

  1. Are your management visibly and proactively supporting health and safety on site each and every day?
  2. Is there a system in place to measure, track, report, investigate and document everything related to the health and safety within your workplace?
  3. How are your H&S communications?

If you want to make a start on understanding your culture then the above questions can be a good starting point. If you’d like to understand what good answers would be Kedleston Safety can help you there.

A safety culture is a combination of the attitudes, beliefs and values of the people within the organisation (measurable with surveys) combined with the organisation’s structures, controls, processes and policies which is measured with safety audits and performance figures. Understanding this combination gives you a picture of your position today.


If you want to understand how you compare to other organisations of the same type / size / activities as yours then benchmarking is a good activity to undertake.

The HSE provides an in-depth leaflet to benchmarking your health and safety which you can access here [click link].

Highlights include:

  • Adopting an approach of continuously learning from businesses or workplaces who have outstanding H&S practises in place.
  • Avoiding ‘wheel reinvention’ by learning from those who’ve achieved what you are striving to within your organisation.
  • Fully understand where you stand on health and safety, you might think you are the very best in class, but benchmarking might show you a different picture.
  • Save money with risk reduction (insurance premiums can be positively affected), increase staff retention, gain a competitive edge, strengthen customer, contractor and supplier relationships. These are the benefits of a health and safety benchmarking exercise that are proven by organisations who’ve done it.

Safety Attitudes Questionnaire

Survey your staff, find out what their real attitude is to health and safety within your organisation by asking the right questions. It will give you a real insight into approaches to risk, understanding of policies, employee concerns on safety and actions they would take in certain scenarios.

The types of questions you could ask are:

  1. Have you received training in the last 6 months on anything related to H&S?
  2. Are you always made aware of safety issues on site?
  3. Does your manager check you can complete your tasks safely?
  4. Do you fully understand the risks involved in completing your job?
  5. Have you seen safe work procedures for all of the activities in our workplace?
  6. Do you have safety procedures that are not always possible to follow?
  7. Is there enough time allocated to learning how to do your job safely?
  8. Do you always receive an updated or new risk assessment when a process changes within the workplace?
  9. Are you aware of how to access our H&S system, policies and risk assessments?
  10. Does your manager listen to your safety concerns and address them?
  11. Are you always involved in putting together the safety procedures for the activities you do daily?
  12. Do you always have the correct PPE and equipment to do your job safely?
  13. Do you know how to access the system to record near misses, accidents and hazards?
  14. What’s your top concern for H&S in our workplace?

Safety performance

There’s an intrinsic link between your safety performance and safety culture. So a great starting point is to have a look at your data:

  • Where are you currently against your annual H&S objectives?
  • How many near misses have been reported?
  • How many LTA’s has your organisation had in the last year?
  • What’s your injury rate?
  • How many risk assessments have been completed?
  • How many safety audits have been undertaken?
  • What is your current hazard burden like?
  • How serious are the items recorded in your reactive monitoring system?
  • How many permits to work have been issued and managed through the process?

If you want to better understand how to measure your health and safety the HSE guide can be accessed here [click link].

Do you know how to build a positive H&S culture?

The health and safety executive highlight the following as essential for a positive health and safety culture:

  • Management commitment
  • Visible management
  • Consistent and high-quality communication between all personnel
  • Active employee participation
  • Open door policy for concerns to be raised

Involving the people within your organisation is critical; active involvement of the team and management in creating the controls, procedures and measures will gain more buy in than a simple roll out from the top or nominated H&S responsible person.

Using the tools mentioned above, like the survey, will enable you to gather an understanding AND highlight that you are committed to the safety of employees. With their input on the hazards involved in their job tasks or workplace setting you are likely to find things you had no idea about. By making things safer, processes easier, communication better and formalising things like risk assessment discussions / updates your team will soon see your commitment.

Reinforcing positive behaviour is essential and this can be done via safety briefings where management discuss safety performance (both the good and not so good). By highlighting the great behaviour and attitudes towards H&S you are setting the standard and flying the right flag.  

Health and Safety committees might feel like a big move, whether you are a large corporate or a small business. But they are powerful things to set up, bringing people together with different roles and responsibilities to run through guidelines or changes needed will help disseminate information into your organisation quickly and efficiently.

Systems could feel like a huge investment, especially if you opt for a dedicated piece of software or App. Whilst you don’t have to implement these to have a good safety recording and evaluation process you must have an easy-to-use method for every employee to access in the way they need to. Systems can help with active employee participation if it’s easy to log a hazard or concern and enable that open door policy where people are not worried about reporting.

How to promote a strong culture of health and safety within your workplace

Essentially all that is needed is:

  • Easy to access H&S information
  • Leading by example
  • Be open and approachable as a management team
  • Training completed

It’s essential that your health and safety information is available always for everyone within an organisation and by accessible that means not complicated and if necessary translated. It’s critical that every manager within the organisation encourages and endorses your health and safety procedures and practises. Where leaders lead employees will naturally follow. Blame cultures CAN NOT exist in a good safety culture and every manager has to be open to hearing what’s not working, not going well or has the potential to hurt someone. If profit is more important than safety then you’ve got everything mixed up. The pandemic has enabled us to complete training in a far more effective way than companies probably were doing. So as well as your legal requirement training a good safety culture means regular, understandable, not time consuming training that helps improve health and safety.

Our top tips for building the best safety culture in your workplace

  • Create a vision for your organisation’s health and safety
  • Define who is responsible for what and make sure accountability is built into your organisation, look for the leaders or ‘what good looks like’ from a team member
  • Develop an easy to use system for communication of your health and safety
  • Involve people are all levels within your organisation, bottom up is better than top down when it comes to health and safety. But don’t forget top down is important when it comes to living and breathing safety within an organisation.
  • Build a positive reporting system that everyone can use to report and document concerns easily and most importantly without repercussions.
  • Empower people to stop working if something is not safe
  • Report all hazards, near misses, accidents and concerns. And analyse things regularly (like was a hazard ‘fixed’ immediately, understand the root cause of accidents etc.)
  • Celebrate successes and reward people for great behaviours; the more people positively view H&S as super important in your workplace the more people will commit

It’s important to act now to ensure you have the safest workplace for everyone, whether you are processing, office based, offering hybrid or remote working. Because the lives of your people matter.

If you want to better understand what your safety culture looks like today or have an expert map out your vision for improving the safety culture within your organisation contact us today.

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