Building a Culture: Shared Beliefs Can Improve Workplace Safety

April 9, 2014

In many companies, the workplace culture has come about by accident. Most of the time, the employees develop shared beliefs and experiences over a long period, and those are shaped by what happens within the company. However, all of this has been created without a clear purpose. Unfortunately, that means that there are wasted opportunities to use the company culture for good, such as improving overall safety and reducing workers compensation insurance costs.

With that in mind, though, it can still be challenging to change a corporate culture and use those shared beliefs reduce the number of hazards and shape a risk management plan. Even so, it is possible. It requires a collaborative effort from all members of the business, especially those at the top. A company that works together can be much more efficient while on the job. In order to achieve that goal, here are some tips and tricks to pull it all together.

Use training to help employees understand
The first step on the path to a new, secure company culture is education. According to IndustryWeek, many businesses turn to training programs and coaching to get this completed.

This is the case because these measures can be extremely effective in getting employees to understand any shifts within the company, and why those changes are taking place. Training often targets a wide group of people, sometimes even the entire workplace at once. On the other hand, coaching provides a more personal experience, where two people can sit down and discuss issues together.

In addition, the company should try to replace older experiences - such as those that shaped the previous culture - with new ones, IndustryWeek explained. This is the more hands-on approach to changing the business' composition. Once employees understand the new direction the company needs to go, they can be given the tools to head there. For example, it may be beneficial to offer workshops, form committees and create new openings and positions in the company. All of these steps can give workers something to strive for, as well as a fresh perspective on the company's culture.

Keep an eye on safety
The goal of changing the company's culture is to make sure that the overarching themes and beliefs in the business are in sync. Getting everyone on the same page can have the added bonus of improving safety and reducing workers compensation insurance costs.

According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, culture has been shown to directly limit the amount of accidents and injuries in the workplace.

For starters, employees should understand what a safety culture entails, such as:

  • Shared beliefs
  • Common practices
  • Positive attitudes
  • General atmosphere

Ideally, these elements of a safety culture will allow everyone in the company to take responsibility for the security of the workplace. This goes beyond the average requirements and duties, OSHA noted. Instead, workers should be willing to make changes on their own, and be proactive with hazards and other threats that could jeopardize the safety of fellow colleagues. However, building this type of environment takes some time, and it is up to management to get the process started.

In order to begin, leadership must determine the safety responsibilities of each worker, according to OSHA. Then, they can make sure that the goals are lining up for every employee, from the top all the way to the bottom. To further this mission, it can also be smart to offer incentives for safe work and institute disciplinary measures for those that slip up. A safety committee comprised of managers and employees can help make sure those steps are acceptable by all standards.

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