Worker Safety Will Never Thrive in Your Workplace Without This

Posted by
Lance Roux
on May 27, 2024

The priorities of any organization depend largely upon the values of its leadership. To cultivate a work environment that reflects your overarching goals, those in leadership positions need to lead by example. This is especially true when it comes to fostering a strong work safety culture at your business.

By setting clear safety expectations for workers, improving communication, and providing employees with easy access to safety training resources, senior leadership at any organization can begin to improve worker safety across the board. Given time and effort, this strong sense of workplace safety will eventually become the cornerstone of your organization’s ethos. 

Explore more about the role of senior leadership in developing a work safety culture and how you can ensure safety remains a central focus at your organization well into the future.

how does senior leadership influence work safety culture?

The prevailing organizational culture at any company is a downstream result of the decisions leaders make and the objectives they pursue. Part of developing a work safety culture comes down to enforcing strict safety procedures and regulations, and ensuring uniform adherence to these policies relies on the commitment of senior leadership to protect workers above all other considerations. 

For work safety culture to improve, leaders must demonstrate to their employees a continuing dedication to improving the health, security, and overall well-being of each individual.  

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Learning from the safest companies in america

Voted as one of America’s safest companies for a third time in 2023 by EHS Magazine, Acco Brands exemplifies work safety culture in action. A large part of this success comes from Acco Brand’s outstanding track record in the prevention of incidents, maintaining below-average illness rates, and investing in injury prevention through ergonomics. In addition, Acco Brands offers all employees free access to on-site massages, even if workers are suffering from discomfort caused by injuries that occurred outside the workplace.

Another illustrative example of senior leadership fostering a greater work safety culture can be seen at Aqueos, one of the most trusted underwater construction companies in the United States. This work safety culture starts with senior leadership and is actively adopted by employees through an “environment of active caring” that depends on the participation of every worker. 

Thanks to this robust safety culture, Aqueos has maintained an industry-leading reputation for incident prevention. Since 2014, Aqueos has received no less than eight awards recognizing its outstanding work safety culture.

setting clear worker safety objectives and expectations

Leaders of an organization should demonstrate their safety expectations and leadership to employees by creating benchmarks for success and setting concrete safety objectives to achieve. This goal may include reducing near misses to a null factor, ensuring all workplace incidents are properly reported, or recording fewer injuries than the year prior. When these safety objectives are aligned with the overarching organizational goals of the company, a culture of work safety will start to gain greater momentum.  

To maximize compliance with workplace safety standards, a top-down approach tends to have the greatest impact. After all, if employees see that leadership is not held to the same standard as everyone else, the workforce is far less likely to observe and respect safety regulations. 

For example, imagine a senior supervisor is caught without the appropriate PPE in a restricted area with potentially hazardous chemicals. An employee reports the incident to top leadership, and the senior supervisor is brought into a safety meeting to discuss the incident before being enrolled in a refresher training course. 

In a workplace safety culture like this, employees will appreciate that all individuals at the organization are equally held accountable for breaches in safety protocols, regardless of their role or rank.

fostering open communication channels

A work safety culture cannot thrive in an environment where communication is stifled. There should be a clear chain of command for employees and supervisors to follow when potential safety violations or near misses are discovered. 

Safety incidents or close calls should be thoroughly discussed during weekly safety meetings to determine what happened, why it happened, and how to prevent the issue from recurring. In addition, individuals involved in the incident should have the opportunity to provide feedback and discuss the various extraneous factors that may have contributed to the incident.  

providing adequate training and resources

Senior leadership should make it a priority to invest in the training, tools, and resources employees need to stay safe. While hosting regular safety training seminars is a great place to start, business leaders should also learn to leverage technology to bolster safety initiatives. This may include offering online training courses, utilizing educational safety apps, and providing workers with mobile environmental monitoring devices to detect contaminants, odorless gases, or other hazards throughout the workplace. 

Furthermore, efforts should be made to ensure workers have easy access to all safety equipment and resources, such as MSDS data sheets, fire extinguishers, and automated external defibrillators.  

how can leadership sustain a strong safety culture?

As mentioned earlier, senior leadership at an organization must adhere to the safety regulations they put into place and lead by example to develop a sustainable safety culture. Those in leadership positions should continually evaluate safety initiatives and provide positive reinforcement to those who consistently follow safety protocols. Doing so creates a clear framework for others to follow and ensures no workers feel trepidation with communicating potential safety violations. 

To ensure a culture of safety continues to improve, senior leadership should also participate in periodic, random audits of various departments to reveal possible ways to further diminish potential hazards. Given time, insights gleaned during audits and safety meetings will create feedback loops that can help your safety initiatives become more efficient and effective.

Related Content: How to Streamline Safety Compliance for Increased Efficiency

safety culture starts with senior leadership

Ultimately, the strength of the safety culture at any organization depends upon the active participation of top-level supervisors, stakeholders, and leaders. By demonstrating to your workforce that safety is paramount at a senior level, managers and supervisors of various departments under you will be more inclined to follow your lead. 

Once your organization's leadership begins to reinforce commitment, communication, and consistency as essential components of work safety culture, it’s only a matter of time before every person in your company recognizes the critical role they play in the process.


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Tags: Safety Management, Safety training, Safety Coaching

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