The Importance of Safety Culture

by Pride Transport | Jun 04, 2021

 

Safety. It is an essential part of everyday life, and it is imperative on the job. A safe and healthy workplace is vital to most employers and employees. A safe workplace not only protects workers from injury and illness, but it can also lower injury/illness costs, reduce absenteeism and turnover, increase productivity and quality, and raise overall employee morale. When you think about it, safety is good for business. Also, protecting your workers is just the right thing to do.

For a small business, one injury can be a total financial disaster. According to OSHA, injury costs to an employer include:

  • Production losses

  • Wages for work not performed

  • Increased workers' compensation insurance costs

  • Damage to equipment or machinery

  • Hiring and/or training new employees

  • A decline in product quality and worker morale

  • A decline in worker morale

  • High turnover and lost work time

The cost of worker injury, illness, and death are much higher than workers’ compensation insurance alone. And, the overall cost of injury prevention is less than the cost of the injury. It’s important to note that a safe and healthy workplace will attract and retain more quality workers.

 

Safety

woman truck driver working on truck

Most companies will say they are safe or give some kind of pass at keeping the workplace safe. In reality, many companies do not actually work to keep the workplace safe and healthy. There are vague attempts at safety that are usually comprised of a first-day lecture droned by someone with a been there done that attitude and a safety poster on the wall in the breakroom that’s been partially eclipsed by a snack vending machine.

There are a myriad of “safety solutions” that companies administer, and these solutions are all available online for the perusal of the general public. None of these safety measures are proprietary, and only a handful of them actually work. They’re out there, but they aren’t being given the proper attention.

 

Culture

Culture is the customs, arts, social institutions, and achievements of a particular nation, people, or other social group. This means there is a shared mindset and drive from a group of people.

We hear the term cultured used a lot these days. Sometimes a cultural movement isn’t productive or significantly positive. Other times, a culture is vital for the success of a particular idea or need. This is the case with safety culture.

The way an organization approaches workplace safety is vital to the success of those safety implementations. Posting safety rules or having a once-a-year “safety chat” are just not enough to keep the workplace as safe as possible. What makes safety work is fostering a safety culture in the workplace.

 

The Difference

There is a vast and essential difference between safety on the job and creating a workplace safety culture. Safety culture is more apt to work and keep employees safe and injury-free. Much more so than the usual vague reference to safety and then hoping it will just take.

A safety culture in an organization is one that puts a high level of importance on safety beliefs, values, and attitudes. The weight that safety carries in these culture-driven companies means that all employees work toward a common safety goal. Employees care and watch out for each other and are actively involved in making the workplace safe and agreeable.

In previous times, safety was mentioned and given the nod, maybe at the orientation meeting or when the new hire is doing paperwork, there is a “safety speech.” The problem is, these situations put the onus of safety on one person. Usually, there is a reference to “we” or “the company” being aware of safety, and it doesn’t go much further than that. The idea of safety and the implementation of safety measures is left up to unknown entities, and so real safety is never at the forefront of the employee’s mind. They are always thinking, well, someone is watching over this, and someone has our safety covered. That’s not true.

 

A Good Safety Culture

driver working on fixing truck

When you work in a company that has adopted and fostered a safety culture, there are signs that the culture is doing well and thriving. Not only are there fewer accidents, injuries, and trips to the hospital, but there are other signifiers that a safety culture is at work.

All employees show a working knowledge of both safety and health issues. In working safety cultures, all employees show this kind of knowledge. They know what to do when it counts, and they know their roles and responsibilities when it comes to safety.

Safety is the key priority. In an authentic safety culture, there are no competing issues. If there is competition between issues, a safety culture ensures that safety comes out on top every time. This is the way a safety culture thrives. Safety is always the priority, not just when it’s easy, or someone thinks about it. Every time. It’s simple. Otherwise, a toxic culture is created, and no one feels or is safe.

Effective safety cultures are proactive. Issues are identified before they become costly problems. The culture allows employees to find risk factors and put control measures in place proactively. And there are safety leaders that stay ahead of the curve to resolve problems.

Employees feel comfortable reporting safety issues. In effective safety cultures, employees are comfortable reporting any safety issues. They know they won’t be punished for coming forward. It’s a huge indication of the safety culture working and being adopted by all employees.

You can’t afford to have people who treat safety lightly. For a real safety culture to thrive, you want employees and employers that take safety seriously. Effective safety cultures have safety as a condition of employment. That’s making safety a key organizational value. And that produces results.

Rewarding and recognizing good safety behaviors are the norm in strong safety cultures. They reinforce positive safety behaviors and motivate continued health and safety performances. Eventually, word gets out that the culture recognizes a job well done. That has a significant impact.

One of the main pillars of an active, influential safety culture is that safety is seen as an investment. These effective safety cultures look at resources put into safety as an investment, not as a cost or an expenditure. Good leaders and safe companies recognize that putting time, effort, money, and awareness into safety is an essential investment in their employees’ safety and well-being. When this kind of culture is active and thriving, employees know that they are being cared for, which makes them happier at work, making them more productive.

 

More Than Monetary Concern

Despite the obvious financial benefits of a strong safety culture, that isn’t and shouldn’t be the main focus of the idea. At the base of a safety culture is the care and well-being of all employees. The realization that when employees are well and happy, the entire company runs more efficiently, and the retention rate of employees remains high.

Companies like Pride Transport say that they care and respect all their employees, treat everyone like family, and be backed up by an active safety culture. Pride’s founders and owners were once drivers; in fact, the CEO and the company’s president still drive. They understand the need for safety on the job from a driver’s point of view, and so, they have worked hard to implement a robust and authentic truck driver safety culture.

At Pride, they see safety as more than just saving money. They actively show they care about their employees by insisting that safety be a priority all the time. Drivers especially recognize the gravity of poor safety, and drivers recognize the efforts Pride takes to cultivate safety and a safe mindset all the time. This maintenance of a safety culture is one of the primary reasons many drivers come to work for, and stay with Pride.

 

It is Important

Safety is vital to any operation. When employees feel safe on the job, they have increased respect for the higher-ups and work in peace. You cannot put a monetary tag on having happy employees who work together to ensure the safety of all involved. The long-term benefits of a safety culture, lower attrition rates, better quality people applying for work, word of mouth about how careful the company is, and how they take safety seriously will do more for a company than people imagine.

When a company actively creates and maintains a safety culture, employees know they are being seen as people, valuable people, and not just numbers or stats. This creates a unified feeling for the company’s continued success and a more significant investment in staying with that company to help it succeed.

Injuries cost money. Losing an employee means time, energy, and money to replace and train someone new. Creating an influential safety culture saves money and time, but it also elevates every employee’s value, which does not go unnoticed. Companies with effective safety cultures thrive and have happy people working for them for a long time.

 

 



 

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