How to improve your safety culture

There is a lot of pressure on organisations to constantly improve health and safety. The ultimate goal is to have a great safety culture that is maintained and protected by everyone in the organisation, but how do you achieve this?


The organisations that have the best safety cultures are often the ones that have previously suffered a serious incident that has galvanised them into action. The emotive story of the incident is the catalyst for change and everyone within the organisation feels compelled to play their part.


The consequences of staying the same are now very real! This is an ‘away from’ motivator, but no one wants to live through a tragedy as a form of motivation to change.


How can you simulate the same feeling of conviction and unity to change without having a real accident to talk about?


The answer is, you can’t.


Talking about hypothetical accidents doesn’t have the same impact because an away from motivation only works for past events that have already happened.


What great leaders know is that if you are looking to change for a better future, you need to have a cause or purpose and then use a ‘towards’ motivation. When you know why you want to change, you will be able to create a story that has a beginning (where safety is now), a middle (what the journey will be), and an end (your vision for a great safety culture).


Steps to improve your safety culture


Define the purpose for change


This is the first hurdle that organisations fall over when trying to improve safety. They tend to rely on statistics to show that there is room for improvement. The message this sends is that we want our statistics to improve - not that we want to keep people safe! Think about what really worries you about health and safety and tell it in a story.


Have a vision


This is often missed from safety improvement strategies, but it is essential to have a goal to aim for. The word vision is used specifically because you want people to be able to visualise your end goal. The more detail, emotion and conviction you have about achieving this goal, the more likely it will turn into a story that you repeat.


Identify the current cultures


You can’t move forwards if something is holding you back. You will need to know what stories are being told in relation to safety and safety leadership. These stories are based on previous experiences and perceptions. Learning about what people are opposed to in the way safety is managed will give you an insight into why they behave unsafely at times. Armed with this knowledge, you can start to move people away from unsafe behaviours.


Create an implementation plan


Now you know why you want to change, what you want to change to and where you are starting from, it’s time to set objectives towards a great safety culture. These objectives should be the middle part of the story so that everyone knows what they need to do and where the organisation is on the journey.


Angela Duckworth, author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, explains that people are naturally motivated towards a greater purpose if they will personally benefit from it too, so make sure people are acknowledged for their participation.


Lead the changes


All leaders and managers need to be committed to the vision. It is essential that they have a personal story that creates the right internal dialogue, which relates directly to your safety culture vision. They are role models and every thought, feeling and action is being perceived, observed and measured for congruence. This will translate into new stories, told with pride, about being united in the pursuit of a great safety culture.


The most difficult step here is getting to the truth about your current culture. Knowing the right questions to ask and understanding the influences and emotions that drive safety behaviours is a specialist set of skills.


How we can help


Tended gives you the opportunity to gain this valuable information. With scientifically proven question sets and using psychological and sociological data analysis, we can give you an in-depth view of what is actually happening within your safety culture.


We will also help you with your objective planning by offering you some recommendations and solution resources that will bring you to your vision in the most efficient and effective way possible.


To uncover insights into your safety culture and start making sustainable improvements across your organisation, schedule a demo to speak to our sales team.