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The importance of a positive health and safety culture.

An organisation’s culture can have as big an influence on safety outcomes as the safety management system.

The safety culture of an organisation relates to the values, attitudes, perceptions, competencies, and patterns of behaviour that determine a company’s commitment to health and safety management.

Key aspects of an effective culture: KENpic2

Management commitment: If employees can see that management are committed to health and safety this produces higher levels of motivation and concern for health and safety throughout the organisation.

Visible management: Managers need to be seen to lead by example when it comes to health and safety. Good managers appear regularly on the ‘shop floor’, talk about health and safety and visibly demonstrate their commitment by their actions. It is important that management is perceived as sincerely committed to safety. If not, employees will feel that commercial interests come first, and safety initiatives or programmes will be undermined by cynicism.

Good communications between all levels of employee: In a positive culture questions about health and safety should be part of everyday work conversations. Management should listen actively to what they are being told by employees, and take what they hear seriously. Employees should feel confident to report accidents and near misses to enable the company to learn lessons from these.

Benefits of a positive culture:

  • Lower absenteeism – if people are fit and healthy they’ll remain at work.
  • Lower wage bills – no doubled-up costs of sick pay and overtime cover to fill the gaps.
  • Reduced repairs & re-working – when things are done right there is less injury, damage or out of spec product meaning less costs for repairs, re-working and waste disposal.
  • Happier workforce – if employees feel safe and secure at work, they’ll be happier.Businesspeople Having Meeting In Modern Open Plan Office
  • Lower staff turnover – if employees don’t think the grass is greener elsewhere, companies will be paying a lot less to replace workers who’ve left. And a lot less on recruitment and training too.
  • Reduced risk of fines – if the HSE were unhappy with health and safety practices, companies could be subject to hefty fines.
  • Reduced insurance claims – injury and illness claims, property damage and business interruption all cost money. Investing money to reduce claims will save money in the long term.
  • Reduced insurance premiums – The better the health and safety performance, the lower the premium.
  • Improved productivity, quality & profitability – the presence of positive workplace perceptions and feelings are associated with higher customer loyalty, higher profitability, higher productivity and lower rates of staff turnover.
  • More satisfied clients & stakeholders – if quality, efficiency and staff relations are all exemplary a business will have a reputation to reflect that.



Speak to me, Rachel Hamill, on 01302 341 344, if you would like more information or advice on any aspect of the health and safety programme at your business.

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