Building a culture of safety that pervades the entire organization allows you to reduce the risk of safety issues and improve compliance with both internal and external requirements. Integrating safety into the culture means that it is baked into the attitudes and behaviors of employees. When making decisions, they always consider the safety factors that might play a role. Employees in a culture of safety will also behave proactively to prevent safety issues from arising in the first place.
Creating this type of culture offers many important benefits, including the five below.
Fewer Injuries and Fatalities
The most obvious benefit of creating a culture of safety is a reduction in the number and severity of workplace injuries and fatalities. A Safety and Health at Work report showed that introducing a culture of safety at construction companies in Hong Kong dramatically reduced the number of injuries. The culture-building elements that were introduced in this case were a clear commitment from leadership, the identification of safety as a core company value, and training that emphasized the importance of personal accountability and how it plays a role in workplace safety.
Lower Turnover and Reduced Absenteeism
When employees miss work because of an injury, it can have an impact on productivity and morale. Severe injuries can also contribute to increased turnover when employees are unable to return to work or choose to pursue a different career path after sustaining an injury. Turnover may be high even among uninjured employees if they simply do not feel that their employer values their safety.
Committing to a culture of safety can help reduce the number of days away from work and reduce costs at the same time. A key element of creating a culture of safety is a strong commitment from leadership and training to support the initiative. Not only does this reduce lost-time injuries, but when employees see their company making this investment, they will feel safer and more valued at work.
Lower Medical and Insurance Costs
In addition to the less predictable costs related to days away from work and lost productivity, injuries can add to a company’s expense burden through insurance premiums. Fewer workers’ compensation claims leads to lower premiums, and some programs even offer rebates based on a good track record. The resource burden on administrators is also reduced when fewer claims are made, freeing up valuable time for other important tasks.
For employees, fewer injuries means less money spent on medical bills and time spent receiving healthcare. When everybody in the organization is on the same page about safety and what a high priority it is, everybody benefits.
Better Morale and Higher Productivity
Although it is not possible to completely eliminate risk in any work environment, in many industries it is possible to reduce the risks to a point at which employees feel inherently safe at their jobs. This is partially because in a culture of safety, employees hold each other accountable and have an awareness of how their own behavior affects others. These factors contribute to an environment in which employees feel less stressed about their jobs and are confident in their coworkers. Fewer injuries also means there are not as many interruptions in workflow, which creates overall higher productivity.
Stronger Recruitment Potential
A company’s safety record says a lot about how employees are treated and regarded. Implementing a culture of safety leads to fewer incident reports and a safety record that ultimately speaks for itself. Potential new employees are likely to be more attracted to companies that demonstrate a clear commitment to protecting their employees. A culture of safety also helps improve a company’s reputation among potential job candidates when they hear and see how current employees behave.
Building a Culture of Safety
Creating a culture of safety requires taking multiple steps and sustaining an ongoing effort to keep everybody accountable for their decisions and behaviors. It starts with a strong commitment from leadership, a clear path forward, and training that teaches employees just how much impact their own actions can have when it comes to safety. When executed well, the end result is a culture in which all employees prioritize safety and demonstrate this commitment by being proactive. To learn more about how you can create this type of environment at your company, read our free guide, Building a Culture of Safety: Beyond Regulatory and Compliance.