A Good Safety Culture Creates a Base for High Quality Operations

Safety culture has emerged as an important theme in today’s work environment and has proved itself as the foundation for all work and safety activities. The main goal an effective safety culture is involving and engaging employees in all safety operations and involved management instead of staring at key figures. Safety culture does have a direct impact on safety indicators and figures, however positive development can only take place if the entire organization has a unified school of thought and commitment to safety, and safety indicators have a concrete meaning to the work. In this post, Maiju Räsänen, PEAB Asphalt’s environmental and occupational safety manager, comments on the importance of safety culture.

How Can a Safety Culture Be Successfully Measured and Managed?

“Managing a safety culture follows the same principles as any other style of management. In principle, management must be top-down, i.e., top management is aware and involved in safety operations and understand its ultimate significance and impact on work. It requires consistency and goals as well as employee encouragement. Employees are more motivated to act safely when it is a shared work aspect and a consistent part of everyone’s attitudes and actions

Safety metrics are also a crucial part of operations and safety, and work-related observations should be a daily routine. Basic metrics such as accident rate, safety observations, accident severity, and absenteeism provide great information on operations and safety attitudes, but more important than the numbers is how the findings are handled, recorded, and communicated to the field. These things say a lot about safety culture. Every metric and observation are an opportunity to learn and improve, and they have a very tangible impact on work. Looking toward the future, it would be great to develop the metrics further and specifically in the direction of tracking what actions the findings lead to, how quickly detected problems are fixed and what improvements are happening.”

These quantity and frequency meters alone can’t tell the level of a safety culture. The level is discovered through safety culture measurement. An external safety culture measurement provides all the necessary information to support management and development. Maiju has experience in measuring and analyzing a safety culture with Kiwa.

How Did You End Up Measuring Your Safety Culture?

“The development of our safety attitude and culture is very important to us and the goal was to find a unified PEAB Industri level safety, so that everyone has the same everyday practices, and we still have a little more to do. The safety culture measurement served as a nice starting point and helped us discover of current level. The survey revealed many subjects and areas for development, through which the goal can now be reached. Issues and areas for development have been divvied out for the coming years, and it should be noted here that the development of a safety culture is a long-term process and requires perseverance, clear guidelines, goals, and prioritization. It would be nice to have it all done right away, but creating a lasting foundation is of the essence here.”

How Was the Experience of Measuring Your Safety Culture?

“Very good! Everything worked well and effortlessly on Kiwa’s side, and the survey was completed on a fast schedule. The technology and platform worked excellently, and the finished question battery further accelerated the start of the survey. The questions were well thought out, clear and showed expertise. With very small tweaks like slightly changing the question layout or answer options, we were able to target vocation specific issues. The response rate was also at a good level and the results came on schedule and were easy to share with everyone involved. Overall, the survey was successful in all respects, and we were able to find out important areas for development easily and effortlessly. Ease was of importance for us here, and it is also easy to continue and implement it again in the future.”

Do You See PEAB Conducting More Safety Culture Measurements in the Future?

“As I mentioned before, the development of a safety culture takes time and requires extra work before it can even get off to a good start and after that is an ongoing process that needs to be monitored and developed. This survey was a baseline measurement for the development of safety culture and attitude and will become one safety indicator that will be monitored in the future. The survey and question set provide a clear benchmark and consistent and comparable results. I think the safety culture survey is as important as annual staff surveys and should be an annual measurement, but based on just one survey, progress has already been made this season and improvement will be reinforced and supported in the future. We want to develop the strongest possible safety culture that extends everywhere, at all levels and to everyone.”

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