Creating a strong workplace safety culture should be one of the primary goals of any EHS management program. That's because the effectiveness of safety efforts and initiatives is amplified when employees and companies commit to safety. In this article, we explore how to create a proactive safety culture, the difference between proactive and reactive safety, and finally, how modern technology is helping companies achieve their safety goals.
Importance of safety culture in the workplace
The success of health and safety measures within a business largely depends on its safety culture, as involvement and adherence to safety protocols make these systems genuinely effective. As a result, companies are beginning to emphasize building their safety culture, and ensuring and promoting this culture has become fundamental to safety-related roles.
Every day leaders demonstrate their commitment or disregard for safety with their words and actions. Whatever management does, employees are likely to follow their lead, which helps create a workplace safety culture. Unfortunately, when that lead is negative, it can have several detrimental effects. Things like increased workplace incidents and injuries, employees feeling unsafe and reluctant to report safety concerns, and prioritizing work demands over safety are common within a poor safety culture.
Establishing a positive safety culture necessitates the personal investment of every individual within the organization. A proactive approach to health and safety is necessary to create an environment encouraging open conversation and active participation in improving safety. Promoting transparency and involving employees in the organization's safety vision increases their engagement and participation.
By cultivating a positive safety culture, significant benefits can be achieved. These include reducing workplace incidents and injuries, a safety-first mentality, improving employee well-being and job satisfaction, and improved productivity. However, one of the most significant benefits of the collaborative nature of a strong workplace safety culture is that it allows companies to shift their safety programs from reactive to proactive.
Proactive Vs. Reactive Safety
Reactive health and safety management involves dealing with incidents, accidents, and issues after they have occurred. It involves accident reporting, incident investigations, and reviewing and identifying trends within data.
On the other hand, proactive safety management aims to stay ahead of problems by identifying and resolving issues before they lead to incidents. It involves various measures such as inspections, audits, performance monitoring, behavior monitoring, procedure checks, and safety sampling. By implementing proactive safety measures like regular inspections, ongoing training, near-miss reporting, and active supervision, companies can identify improvement areas and make tasks and activities safer.
For example, through proactive safety sampling, you might identify that many of your workers haven’t taken fall prevention training in a while, and you can arrange the training beforehand. However, in a reactive scenario, the need for training would only become apparent after an accident, resulting in additional costs and disruptions.
Proactive safety management is comparable to preventive maintenance in the maintenance field. Just as routine servicing and maintenance of equipment prevent breakdowns and costly repairs, maintaining health and safety standards proactively reduces the likelihood of accidents.
By adopting a proactive approach, you can better plan, schedule, and address safety requirements to minimize unplanned interruptions and emergencies. While it's impossible to foresee every event, being proactive allows you to anticipate and prevent problems before they occur, resulting in fewer emergencies and disruptions.
Building a proactive safety culture
Building a proactive safety culture is a long process that requires top-down commitment and participation. Here are some practical things companies can do to move them in the right direction.
Worker Involvement: Safety-driven companies must consider how implementing changes, or initiatives will impact their frontline workers. These workers often face numerous administrative tasks, leaving them with limited time to address safety issues. To ensure the success of safety initiatives, involve them in decision-making processes.
Stop Work Authority: Granting frontline workers the authority to stop work if safety requirements are not met can effectively engage them in maintaining a safe working environment. Empowering low-level or new employees to raise concerns and halt a job that lacks necessary safety measures increases the likelihood of effective communication and action.
Keep It Simple: Implementing low-tech solutions like anonymous safety suggestion boxes can also yield safety improvements. These boxes provide a platform for reporting potential hazards without fear of reprisal, promoting a culture of open communication.
Focus When It Matters Most: Shift your focus from solely preventing injuries to reducing serious injuries and fatalities (SIFs). This entails prioritizing high-risk activities and exploring innovative solutions to minimize hazards for workers.
Don’t Blame: Maintaining a non-punitive approach is a core element of a proactive safety culture. Workers should feel confident in reporting safety violations without facing negative consequences. Build trust throughout the organization by emphasizing that good-faith safety reporting will not result in punishment.
Nothing will take a company from a negative, reactive safety culture to a proactive one overnight. This change takes time and requires a multifaceted approach involving leadership, frontline workers, company policies, and technology.
Technology Can Help
The emergence of new technologies allows companies to enhance their safety programs even further and take proactivity to new heights. For example, modern EHS management software and features like data analytics enable companies to gain even greater insight into their business and identify trends and risks they never knew existed.
Serenity is an advanced software solution designed to assist companies in enhancing their EHS incident reporting, streamlining incident investigation and response processes, and preventing future incidents. This cutting-edge software offers a range of tools to track and respond to incidents effectively, empowering your team to minimize their impact and confidently manage workplace risks.
With the help of Serenity, thorough investigations and causal analyses can be conducted to identify the underlying causes of incidents, significantly reducing the chances of recurrence. The software also provides powerful real-time reporting and analytics dashboards, enabling continuous improvement of workplace safety by visualizing data, identifying trends, and extracting valuable insights.
Serenity is also now harnessing the strength of AI. By integrating with OpenAI, Serenity can produce Inspection templates and checklists tailored to the specifics outlined in the Inspection description. AI also helps by proposing relevant corrective and preventative actions based on the collected information. Two innovations that can potentially revolutionize user experience and the broader EHS industry.
Finally, what really sets Serenity apart is its native integration with the ServiceNow platform, allowing companies to seamlessly incorporate operational workflows into their business on a trusted and reliable platform. To discover how Serenity can help you establish a safer and more compliant workplace, click here.