What is safety culture?

Safety culture is an elusive term – how do we define it or observe it as safety behaviours? Culture by nature lies within the subtleties and nuances of organisational dynamics with a mixture of common perceptions and beliefs from individuals making it feel like a mystery!


Beyond the complexities of definition, influencing every single person in the workplace to think and behave in the safest ways can feel impossible, especially while leaders may be striving for that evasive ‘once and for all’ answer. Spending exhaustive amounts of time and effort on compliance, only to have someone do the wrong thing and have an accident is frustrating and stressful.


Thinking about your own safety culture


Your workforce knows what the real rules of your safety culture are. Listening and observing leaders, they pick up on the subtle and blatant messages and form conscious and unconscious opinions on what is really expected and valued – that’s how your safety culture has evolved.


Your culture may have come from former leaders who the workforce deemed untrustworthy, and now you have to prove you can be trusted. If you don’t, they may assume that you are the same as the other leaders, resulting in frustration at being unable to make positive change.


But how can you gain influence over collective perceptions and assumptions if you don’t even know what they are?


Identifying your workplace culture


Workplace cultures are a journey, made up of three parts:

  1. Deeply ingrained (past)
  2. Difficult to identify (Present)
  3. Hard to change (Future)

Conducting an in-depth safety culture survey is the perfect way to begin to understand the trends and patterns of your workplace, and is the first step toward positive change.


Unlocking the mystery


With an understanding of how both your leadership teams and your workforce think, feel and behave towards safety, bridging the gaps will flow naturally.


The mystery can be taken out of your safety culture with the right tools to make targeted changes. Being consistent and persistent will not only help improve safety but will also earn you the respect and trust of your workforce.