There is a very good chance that we have all heard that safety starts at the top. This is not a cliché’ as some may think. All safe workplace efforts must start with top management leading the way with a vision for the company. An organization’s safety culture is ultimately reflected in the way in which safety is managed in the workplace.  Safety leadership is critical to optimize safety culture and prevent injuries.

Managers play a vital role in the daily development and maintenance of your workplace culture. The more effective leadership is, the more concentrated efforts will be seen. There is compelling research that demonstrates that the management philosophy and core values of an organization are the most important factor determining its safety performance. For example, companies with the lowest lost-time injury rates have the highest level of management commitment and employee involvement. Optimizing management support for safety is a key ingredient for safety culture improvement and reduction of injuries

Although top management is key, leadership also must involve all staff though effective interpersonal communication. Creating a total culture of safety in any workplace requires a common vision, a team effort and cooperation from everyone from top to bottom in an organization. Strong safety leadership also requires regular focus on day to day actions and addressing those behaviors both positive and negative.

Too often we see where safety is managed at a distance, many times a far off philosophy of contentment and complacency.

 It is unfortunate when I have to see any employee who is reluctant for whatever reason to warn coworkers when they observe risky action in the workplace. This is especially concerning to me considering that most injuries are caused by human behavior. It is ironic that people underestimate other co workers willingness to receive feedback. Everyone deserves an equal chance to leave work in the same manner in which they came at the beginning of the day.

Certainly we are making progress because organizational safety cultures have improved immensely over the years. The Journal of the American Medical Association (1999) estimates that occupational fatalities decreased by more than 90 percent from 1933-1997. This largely is due to increased cooperation between management and labor to make improvements, the development of federal regulatory agencies such as OSHA, DOT and EPA among others.

Any company culture will take time to change. It most likely has taken some time to develop into its current state, so we cannot expect it to change overnight or because we make some instant changes or throw money at the problem. It starts with a systematic effort of all involved with a mindset that accidents are not going to take place.

These efforts in which safety is handled in the workplace and how  policies and procedures are written, developed and  implemented also will assert that the nature by which safety is managed. Awareness training of procedures along with everyone catching co-workers doing something correctly or in a safe manner will influence the culture/climate of the organization.

In summary;      

  • Certainly in high-hazard areas in any workplace should be considered number one priority.
  • Safety management has to start with top management of any organization.
  • Employees want to be involved!
  • Everyone deserves an equal chance to leave work in the same manner in which they came in.
  • Your company culture will take time to change
  • Catch co-workers doing something right!
  • It is easy to see how the management system and culture of an organization are closely related.