Explain the main benefits of a positive health and safety culture.

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Learning Outcome

When you have worked through this Study Unit, you will be able to:

Determine an organisation’s health and safety culture.

Explain the main benefits of a positive health and safety culture.

Explain the main barriers to a positive health and safety culture.

Determining an Organisation’s Health and Safety Culture

Factors Common to Positive Health and Safety Culture

HSG48

In the UK, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has produced a useful publication, Reducing Error and Influencing Behaviour (HSG48). It identifies the following factors that have been found to be associated with good safety performance:

Effective communication – a high level of communication between, and within, levels of the organisation, and comprehensive formal and informal communication.

Learning organisation – the organisation continually improves its own methods and learns from mistakes.

Health and safety focus – a strong focus by everyone in the organisation on health and safety.

Committed resources – time, money and staff devoted to health and safety showing strong evidence of commitment.

Participation – staff at different levels in the organisation identify hazards, suggest control measures, provide feedback and feel that they `own` safety procedures.

Management visibility – senior managers show commitment and are visible `on the shop-floor`.

Balance of productivity and safety – the need for production is properly balanced against health and safety so that the latter is not ignored.

High quality training – training is properly managed, the content is well chosen and the quality is high. Counting the hours spent on training is not enough.

Job satisfaction – confidence, trust and recognition of good safety performance.

Workforce composition – a significant proportion of older, more experienced and socially stable workers. This group tend to have fewer accidents, lower absenteeism and lower turnover rates.

Observed and Underlying Indicators

Cultural indicators can alsoconsideredas “clues” or “evidence” that when evaluated can help to establish the type of culture an organisation has. Rarely will one individual indicator provide enough information to establish theculture.

Observed indicators are those acts or conditions that are seen when carrying out an inspection of the facilities and processes. Observed indicators must actually be seen and would either be positive observed indicators (such as staff wearing correct Personal Protection or machines well maintained and fitted with correct guarding, or negative observed indicators (such as untidy workplace, broken machinery or staff behaving badly). The observed indicators will help to form an opinion about the culture of the organisation.

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