Scholars and safety professionals agree that at least 90% of accidents are caused by human errors. If we analyze the statistics in depth, we find that 70% of these „human errors” can be traced back to a systemic fault. In other words, for the most part, employees don’t cause events, rather they trigger latent conditions which are hidden in the procedures, policies, rules and customs of the organization. These faults and potential errors surround us each day.
The first steps toward creating a safe work environment are, of course, to ensure that all engineering, collective protection, administrative, and personal protection measures have been taken. Only after we can be sure that these have been done, and we have a stable base to build on, can we start thinking about improving the safety culture.
Accidents occur even in systems where the stable base has been built – because we are humans, constantly making decisions, and sometimes making the wrong decisions. Yet it is our responsibility to try to make good decisions and to create an environment where safety awareness is paramount. But how?
- By identifying, acknowledging, assessing, and eliminating or minimizing hazards.
- By having a simple and robust reporting system where anyone can report a hazard, be it a dangerous condition or a dangerous behavior.
- By learning from mistakes (e.g., through the objective investigation of incidents and accidents, system audits, and regular personal communication with employees).
- By being flexible, and not being afraid to change the rules and make changes to the system, when logic and reason dictate so.
- By cultivating a just environment where the identification of mistakes is seen as a value, and where neither the perpetrator nor the reporter need to fear punishment or retaliation.
We can help you with: safety culture maturity assessments, trainings, program implementation, coaching
Safety, just like happiness, is not a momentary condition. Individual events or trainings can spark some change in employees thinking or even behavior, but creating a sustainable culture where individuals are looking out for each other and where safe behavior is recognized and rewarded requires long-term thinking, patience, and probably even some trial and error, or at least fine tuning.
All of our safety culture improvement programs are individually tailored to each client and site because this is one area of health & safety where there are absolutely no hard and fast rules or recipes. There is a wide array of tools and methods which we can help you choose from, but each program has to be suited to the Client’s specific situation and expectations.
Read our thoughts on the topic of safety culture on our blog.