Transitioning to a positive safety culture

positive safety culture

The essence of BBS lies in overtly observing the behavior of the employees to understand and modify the ‘undesirable’ to ‘desirable’.

Identifying and communicating ‘key’ behaviors decrease the risks associated in performing a tasks. By observing a worker’s behavior, managers can use workflow design and task analysis to evaluate and identify mechanical, physical and ergonomic hazards of their duties.

Some workers intuitively integrate safe behaviors in their actions, and some demonstrate callous attitudes in performing tasks. This differentiating factor is the cause of many accidents and to work safely, cautiousness is a must in such cases.

Though BBS has gained traction in the past few years, one needs to be reminded that behavior is just one of the many aspects of the safety in the organization. An individual’s perception of safety attitudes, values is influenced by the culture of the team he/she is a part of. A positive safety culture encourages a shift towards a behavior which is culturally desirable and acceptable.

Organizational approach towards safety serves as a baseline as the leaders strive to translate the safety lessons into practical procedures to optimize quality engagement. The emphasis lies on increasing the frequency of safety-related behavior and decrease occurrences of at-risk behavior.

Key determinants in a culture-based approach

Here, the focus is greater on the fundamental importance on the organization’s safety culture and climate- how management policies and practices shape and influence safety behavior. To achieve this, organizations should generate a willingness in their people to work collaboratively.

Educate: Safety managers should explain the rationale behind a particular set of procedures employees need to follow. Through this, employees assume ownership and become self-directed rather than other-directed.

Listen: Empathetic listening, where managers take time to learn first before offering advice, direct or support generates willingness in an individual. It creatively customizes an action plan to achieve a particular safety-related outcome.

Engage: While assessing any incident, facilitating group interactions can create value and build a good safety culture. A company called GKN driveline, fosters the very idea as it recreates the safety incidents across its various sites, thus creating awareness amongst their employees.

Look beyond the numbers: Sharing a personal commitment, responsibility and drive towards safety encourages an atmosphere conducive to a positive safety culture.

To set the expectations for safe work practices, hazard control, incident reporting, an amalgamation of both the approaches is necessary. This can be expressed as a top-down approach, starting at operational level and working down, across and beyond.

This process can involve risk-assessments, safety audits, health-and-safety questionnaires and stress audits. These strategies enhance the beneficial effect of safety and nurture an injury-free workplace. Also, reward responses provide a fertile ground for willingness and people collaborate with a common cause – laying substantial bricks for safety mateship. Such measures can manage aspects of work- demands, controls, supports, relationships, role and change.

Both the approaches should be implemented at the same time so that the change isn’t segregated into a pocket, instead, change is a shift to a new way of doing and ‘thinking about doing’.

As an individual, thinking about small or large steps one can take can maximize reward and can benefit organization and people – intellectually, financially, socially and emotionally.

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