Occupational health and safety (OHS) spends a lot of time discussing safety culture. The same names keeping cropping up in the discussion illustrating the insularity of the safety profession. But other professional sectors are also interested in safety culture.
Recently this blog contained an article about the
Every profession and occupation has its weird stories, the “you wouldn’t believe it” stories. Occupational health and safety (OHS) is no different. There are stories of a degloved penis, complications from piercings in private places or chemical burns on private parts that reinforce the important of washing hands thoroughly after touching chemicals. Such stories can be…
The topic of culture is a critical consideration in the improvement of occupational health and safety (OHS). Each company should be aiming for a an active and healthy workplace and safety culture but the term “culture” continues to be difficult to define and poorly understood by the community.
SafetyAtWorkBlog has written about the culture discussion as it relates to
In July 22 2014 Dr. Dave Sharar, Managing Director of Chestnut Global Health, stated:
“Business leaders here and abroad are starting to understand the need for systematic, scientifically proven approaches in alleviating the behaviors and conditions that compromise employee performance. Managing the stress and the counterproductive behaviors that often result, is critical — but the key to success when engaging different populations in different parts of the world is to place these programs in a ‘culturally aware’ context, which lowers barriers and improves both engagement and outcomes.”
Most of the quote is inarguable and links the management of stress to the management of productivity. However what was intriguing was the later part of the quote about locating stress management programs in a culturally aware context in different parts of the world. SafetyAtWorkBlog established a quick dialogue with Dr Sharar about the quote. Below is the result.
A major element of Corporate Social Responsibility has been to try to apply a safety management system across many workplaces that is consistent with a uniform corporate program and values. How can one address the culturally attuned context while still addressing the core corporate safety values?
Defining safety culture is still a tricky proposition. Definitions can vary from what Global Safety Index quotes:
‘the product of individual and group values, attitudes and beliefs, competencies and patterns of behaviour that determine the commitment to, and the style and proficiency of, an organisation’s health and safety management’.
to the, arguably more functional, definition of
‘the way you work when nobody’s looking”.
Safety culture comprises a mix of personal values, corporate values, laws, norms, expectations, hopes, respect, dignity, care, amongst others. By assessing and linking these elements it should be possible to map or pictorialise a company’s safety culture.
Several years ago at a Comcare conference in Canberra, one speaker outlined leadership and safety culture of some sections of the public service in web, spider or radar graphs (example above). The image stuck with me, particularly after additional sets of data allowed for animation to show the evolution of culture and leadership in relation to specific interventions. The importance of being able to provide a visual image of safety culture should not be understated. Continue reading “Measuring a safety culture”