Lessons to Learn from Safety Culture Development Training Sessions

We’ve recently been holding a series of safety culture workshops at manufacturing and logistics sites of a multinational client.  We would like to share some useful thoughts we can all learn from.

The objective of the sessions is to get the various levels of management to understand their personal responsibility in developing a stronger safety awareness.  In addition, we work with them to develop their skills around communication, to help them integrate safety into everyday discussions with their teams.

At the end of each session we ask the participants to summarize what is the most important message they are taking with them from the workshop.  We found many of the comments summarized the concepts of safety culture so well from a “shop floor” perspective, that we thought it would be worthwhile to share a few of them.  Any manager could stop and consider the relevance of these comments to his/her operations.  

  • We often know there’s a problem, we even know the solution to the problem, yet still we do nothing.  We need to be more diligent about taking action, not only to eliminate hazards, but to keep from discouraging people to report issues.
  • Simply talking to employees about safety is probably the most effective tool for identifying safety problems.  We need to take time to talk face to face with the staff more often. 
  • Setting a good example is critical.  All managers need to re-examine their attitude towards safety, and look in the mirror more often.  
  • How effective is it if we punish employees for safety violations?  Of course, there are rules which cannot be violated, and we need to be strict about enforcing those, and particularly about being consistent between departments.  But if it’s not a „golden rule” that is broken, then we need to dig deeper to find out what is leading the worker to the violation. 
  • Praise is so much more effective than punishment!  We often forget this, and are much quicker to notice errors than good performance. 
  • We need to pay more attention to the differences between individuals, to what motivates each person.   
  • Too often the written policies don’t reflect reality.  And too often the procedures are so numerous that they contradict each other.  This just leads to violations of rules, and to far too many potential system errors.