The behavior-based safety concept (i.e., creating a safety culture) was developed by H.W. Heinrich in the 1930s and 1940s. Heinrich researched hundreds of insurance reports and concluded that almost 90 percent of industrial accidents could be blamed on employee behaviors. Based on his findings, Heinrich concluded that the only way to create a safer environment was to observe and change worker behavior.
While Heinrich’s observations were not fully realized, his premise was correct. Today, companies need to identify behaviors and working conditions that hinder a safe working culture. Creating a culture of safe practices and procedures in your business is a process that includes planning, development, ongoing assessment, and clear communication.
Measuring & Managing Safety
Creating a safety culture as it applies to your business is influenced by metrics. How you measure safety governs how you manage your employees and how well they are adhering to safety regulations and using safety equipment. In companies with strong safety cultures, safety is embedded in daily management. It is part of the fabric of daily activity. Therefore, the closer you manage the safety practices of your team, the more accurate your metric will be for evaluating the success of the culture you are trying to cultivate.
Depending on metrics alone, however, will not provide an accurate indication of how safe your working environment is. Why? Because of the natural variation in these numbers, incident rates can either improve or worsen with absolutely no change in safety conditions or behaviors. The result is that your company can go for long periods of time without accidents, despite having an unsafe work environment. For this reason, metrics may work against you keeping a focus on safety.
Accountability is essential for the safety of you and your employees. Companies that successfully foster a safe culture acknowledge mistakes and harm caused by an employee and identifies changes that it needs to make within the organization. The accountability is focused around making changes – building safe habits and a safe physical environment – that will prevent a recurrence, not on punishing those who made the mistake.
This is not to say that some actions do not have consequences. In some instances, a company may need to reprimand, suspend, or even fire an employee. Effective safety cultures, however, accept that mistakes are an inevitable part of the workplace, but are relentless about learning from those mistakes.
Healthy Working Relationships
Companies that successfully implement a safe culture are characterized by good relationships at all levels, which enable open, honest conversations about what is working, what is not, mistakes that have been made and what needs to change.
You and your executive team contribute to creating healthy working relationships. How?
● Setting clear expectations
● Providing helpful feedback
● Acknowledging good work
● Seeking to understand problems/issues rather than blaming
● Active listening
● Following through on commitments
● Removing roadblocks and asking for feedback on your own effectiveness
Discretionary effort is the level of effort that employs put forth above and beyond the minimum required. Many organizations manage performance in such a way that motivates employees to do only enough to get by and avoid getting in trouble or face negative feedback. But this only causes more harm than good. When it comes to safety, the consequences could lead to severe harm, injury, or fatality.
Truly exceptional safety requires that people don't just follow procedures, comply with OSHA standards and wear personal protective equipment (PPE). Discretionary effort looks like this:
● Your team uses safety equipment and wears safety gear without being reminded.
● Your team looks for and report hazards.
● Supervisors and workers provide feedback on safe and at-risk behavior.
● Team members volunteer for safety committees.
● Everyone makes suggestions for improvement.
● Each person admits when they have made mistakes so lessons can be learned.
Research indicates that when people are recognized for what they do well, they will be more engaged in safety. In other words, they will give discretionary effort.
Safety Equipment for Your Company
MC Tool & Safety provide a wide range of safety products for contractors and roofing companies across Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. To find out more about the safety equipment we have to offer or to make an order, call us at 888-206-2569, or you can message us at firstname.lastname@example.org.