Serious questions raised (again) about the role of safety culture

One of the central tenets of modern safety management is the need to establish a safety culture.  However recent Australian research has cast serious doubt on whether this current belief is valid or useful.

Cover of 10.2-Organisational-CultureIn October 2014, the Safety Institute of Australia launched several new chapters to the Body of Knowledge (BoK) project.  One of those chapters, based on a literature review and authored by David Borys, addresses organisational culture* and says that safety culture:

“… [has] limited utility for occupational health and safety (OHS) professional practice.”

“… literature has unresolved debates and definitional dilemmas.”

“…..remains a confusing and ambiguous concept in both literature and in industry, where there is little evidence of a relationship between safety culture and safety performance.”

These findings should cause all OHS professionals and company executives to re-evaluate the safety culture advice and products that they have received over the last decade.

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