Every time I see or hear the term strong safety culture I cringe.
The focus on building a strong safety culture is terribly misplaced. Safety excellence is a more likely outcome for an enterprise that clearly values and cares for its employees and includes safety as a strategic element of its organizational culture.
What is the one constant in an enterprise that clearly demonstrates world class safety? That element is that safety is interwoven into the DNA of that enterprise. Said another way, safety is a critical element of the organizational structure.
Think about it. Does an enterprise have a separate HR culture, quality culture, cost culture, customer service culture, etc or are these critical elements embodied in the over arching organizational culture?
Great enterprises have a single culture that includes all of the critical cultures just listed.
I see a similarity between the safety culture issue and the question, “Should safety be a priority or a value?”
We all know the answer. For safety excellence to be the outcome, safety needs to be a value not a priority. Why? Priorities change and values rarely do. Frankly, if safety is truly a value in an enterprise, there is a strong likelihood that safety will also be a critical element of the organization’s culture.