Kevin Ian Schmidt

The Road Map to Build a Positive Safety Culture

When beginning a journey, the two most important things to know are: where are you now and where do you want to go. Next, you need a map to see how to get from here to there.

When building a positive safety culture in the workplace, you must begin by assessing where you are right now in respect to workplace safety. Total Case Incident Rate or TCIR is a good indicator. Take the total cases of workplace injury and illness and divide by the number of man hours. Then, multiply the result by 200,000. This number allows you to compare your safety ratings with other facilities while adjusting for the number of employees.

Compare your TCIR rate to other facilities in your industry and with other types of work. If your number is higher, then you know you are not doing as well as others in similar conditions. See what you can learn from them. If your number is already lower, then you may have to look at more advanced safety management systems to lower your score.

Next, take some time to creatively visualize what a safe workplace looks like. Do you see safe work practices as interfering with production? Or, do you see employees working efficiently and safely making quality products at minimal cost? You need a clear vision of where you want to go before you can map out how you plan to get there.

When building a safety culture into the work environment, you need to establish safe work practices. Often, safety procedures are made separate from the work instructions. In facilities with a strong safety culture, the work instructions include the steps to do the job safely and efficiently to produce quality product.

Check Out: Successfully Persuade People That Workplace Injuries Are Preventable

One of the most important steps you will take along the journey to building a safety culture is to establish the safest and most efficient procedures for all work practices. After these procedures are in place, it becomes the job of supervision and audit teams to ensure that the procedures are followed. If the work practices change, then the procedures are rewritten to reflect the changes. Separate safety inspections will no longer be needed as the safest way to do the job has already been established.

When mapping out a course to create a safe work environment, it is very tempting to make a detour through accident avoidance. However, if you want to take the most direct path to building a safe work culture, you will want to go directly to creating safe work practices and not get bogged down at trying to avoid accidents. Most experienced safety professionals will tell you that anytime you implement an accident avoidance plan, you will end up with more accidents before you get your plan in place. So, my advice is to head directly to creating safe work practices and steer clear of all types of accident avoidance systems.

Focus your energy into visualizing a safe work environment. Most often, this place is a clean, bright, well organized facility. It is always a facility where workers are well trained and know how to perform their jobs. These workers take pride in producing quality product and enjoy coming to work each day. They also enjoy leaving each day with all their body parts intact, so they can enjoy their off time. When a positive work environment is created, then there is no need for a separate safety program. A strong safety culture will evolve as the rest of the work experience becomes more positive.

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