Workplace safety lawyers are regular contributors to occupational health and safety (OHS) journals, usually writing about some OHS case law or recent, topical prosecution. Occasionally they write a more research-based article. The November 2017 edition of
Australia is to have a Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry. What’s this to do with occupational health and safety (OHS)? Not a lot, at first blush. OHS professionals and safety practitioners need to watch this Royal Commission because it could led to a fundamental reassessment of corporate culture. The OHS discipline is beginning to understand that it operates within that organisational, or corporate, culture; the same culture that will be examined over the next twelve to eighteen months.
SafetyAtWorkBlog has written repeatedly on safety culture and the potential OHS changes from investigating the corporate culture of banks. An analysis of corporate culture inevitably includes discussions of due diligence, corporate governance, leadership, accountability and ethics – all elements that are critical to understanding and building safe systems of work. Continue reading “Banking Royal Commission should not limit our thinking about culture”
The BP Deepwater Horizon disaster has faded to become another safety leadership failure to be discussed in the OHS and risk management courses but some new research ($ paywall) in Critical Perspectives on Accounting provides a fresh perspective on BP’s safety culture and leadership prior to the major disaster by deconstructing the speeches of the the then-CEO, Tony Hayward.
The latest episode of the Cabbage Salad and Safety podcast is now available and includes a discussion on the perennial occupational health and safety (OHS) debate over Safety Culture.
Siobhan Flores-Walsh and I discuss the role of safety culture and its influence on contemporary safety management. The definition is fluffy and this is part of the challenge in improving a company’s safety culture. I think the podcast episode is a useful primer on the issue to those who are just making contact with the concept and of interest to those of us who are already dealing with safety culture and people’s expectations for it.
Cabbage Salad and Safety podcasts are changing all the time and we read all the feedback and comments that listeners have emailed in. Please have a listen and email me your thoughts for future episodes or please comment below if you prefer.
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.
In 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.