- ISHN GLOBAL
- EHS RESEARCH
Improving a Safety Culture requires a set of change management processes to be employed to ensure that any significant change initiatives are rolled-out in a controlled and systematic manner.
James Madison, fourth president of the United States, was instrumental in drafting the United States constitution. He warned against creating laws “so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood.”
Trust is one of the fundamental aspects contained in the British Health & Safety Executive’s ubiquitous definition of Safety Culture, which states “organizations with a positive Safety Culture are characterized by communications founded on mutual trust, by shared perceptions of the importance of safety, and by confidence in the efficacy of preventative measures”[i].
There’s been a lot of fury and fuss about how the secret to improving workplace safety lies in increasing the value on which the corporate culture places on the safety of the workers. As individuals our values dictate how we spend our time, money, and efforts (If you want to know what is really important to you just take a careful look at where you spend your time and money), as we grow older and mature our values, if they serve us well, become deeply ingrained and difficult to change.
If, after reading this, you have identified that you may have some features of a broken Safety Culture, or you just want to enhance your existing efforts, you may want to consider the following:
There is no “I” in the word “team,” but according to one of our customers there is an “I” in safety – four of them, in fact. Four “I” words sum up what this customer believes it took to get his organization to begin the safety culture improvement journey.
Without clear, strong sponsorship from executive leadership and other management teams, a change process is unlikely to [a] secure the necessary resources, [b] have the means to obtain and retain the support of others, and/or [c] overcome the tendency of many to resist change.
The most effective individual in your company may be the employee safety committee member who has gained not only your trust but has done the miraculous job of bringing together the often-bickering functions of your organization. They can bring together union and management like my dear friend Tim Meier at Marathon Refining.
Editor’s Note: ISHN presents to you this excerpt from a speech on leadership given by Admiral Hyman G. Rickover in 1982. It is more evidence to the fact that much about “leadership” is timeless. The speech has nothing to do with safety, but its principles apply to workplace safety leadership in the most precise way.
In last week's blog, I told a story of an employee directing traffic at a fast-food restaurant opening. Thinking about that incident made me think about the thoughts of the managers at the local store and even at the corporate office if he had been hit and injured while in the path of one of the hundreds of cars arriving at the restaurant.
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