In the period between May 2020 and June 2021 India registered a total of 116 Industrial accidents in chemical and mining industries across the country. It highlights the need for a culture of safety. Can an optimal Organizational culture drive a culture of safety management? Let’s start by defining safety culture.
Safety culture defined
According to IRMI (International Risk Management Institute) safety culture is a subculture of the organizational culture and therefore constrained and influenced by it. The safety culture may be defined as the truths, ideas, and beliefs that all members of the organization share about risk, accidents, injuries, and occupational health. An effective safety culture can be described as the corporate atmosphere in which safety and health is understood to be and accepted as an important core value. IRMI adds that safety culture does not operate in a vacuum. Business initiatives (restructuring, downsizing, acquisitions, etc.), organizational changes, and management’s actions all affect the safety culture, and it in turn, over time, affects the people and ultimately the organization.
Now let’s dive into organizational culture and understand how it can impact your safety culture.
What is organizational culture
Organizational culture is the way in which people in an organization relate to each other, their work and the outside world, in comparison with other organizations. Your Organizational Culture shows how your organization works: how things get done, the interactions between people, and employee relationships to their work and the outside world. The best organizations often place equal emphasis on strategy and culture. Such organizations create a culture that motivates their teams. Organizational Culture is what differentiates your business, so it is important to know the various factors that contribute to your company’s culture.
Organic culture vs Active Culture
An organic approach means that management takes more of an observational approach to culture development so that culture develops naturally over time, or that the culture of the organization has not been considered at all. There are serious limitations and risks involved with the organic growth of your culture because it’s left to take its own direction – and this may not be aligned with your organization’s goals.
An active approach to Organizational Culture refers to organizations where the management takes the lead in proactively defining and implementing an optimal organizational culture. This can involve leading by example, training sessions, consultant guidance and more. It’s important to remember that while Organizational Culture manifests over time on its own, taking a more active approach will help you strategically design it. With proper guidance on your part, you can shape it to benefit your employees, adapt to the current business landscape, provide better customer service and stand out from competitors.
To build a fool-proof safety culture, your company will need to lean towards an active approach to Organizational culture Hofstede Insights can work with you and help you actively design an optimal culture to support your business strategy and safety culture, both in the short and long run.
An effective safety culture is an offshoot of an optimal Organizational culture
You can’t build a safety culture without a well-defined Organizational culture. An effective safety culture needs top management involvement and effective communication:
Buy-in from the top management: effective safety management requires management commitment and involvement. Organizations with successful health and safety track records allocate a significant proportion of resources like time and money to health and safety vis-à-vis production costs.
Lead by example: effective managers are often seen on the shop floor and often interact with employees on the importance of health and safety. Such managers and organizations realise that incidents can occur at any given time and always have robust systems in place to fall back on.
Don’t shoot the messenger: it’s important to create a positive safety culture where employees who report safety hazards or concerns are rewarded. Employees need to believe that the reporting process is positive. When incidents aren’t reported, management and workers lose the opportunity to learn from near misses and low-severity events.
Employee participation and ownership: in successful companies safety is a joint responsibility of the management and employees. Communication across all levels can aid the transition to a safer workplace culture. Effective communication systems harness the unique knowledge that employees have of their own work and processes. Periodic workshops with a focus on topical safety issues and developments helps the team stay abreast.
Reach out to us to find out about our programs and solutions that can help you build an optimal organizational culture