Why Company Safety Culture Has to Start at the Top

Company safety culture has to start at the top – because ultimately, employees follow behavior modeled by senior leadership.

Safety is not an option. It is a practice which responsible leaders cultivate within the workplace; and, a fundamental right of all employees to possess. However, there are far too many companies that lack even the most basic fundamentals of a safety-driven culture – which is a major financial and ethical concern.


What Does Safety Culture Look Like?

A strong safety culture is led by executives who really care about their workers well-being, with clear safety goals, working protocols, effective training, and personable, simple access to executive attention. It’s simple: care about workers and you’ve already begun the foundational work for a strong safety culture.

Why Start at the Top?

When asked, “Why does safety culture have to start at the top?”, Steve Yates, CEO of Optimum Safety Management, replied: “We understand that safety flows top-down. [But], the reality is that most CEOs are not focused on safety from a people perspective, or for their investors from a financial perspective.”

“The thing that brings people around from a safety perspective is either some sort of catastrophic incident, a large injury, [or] a large incident that leads to a large fine. That’s when they find they’re not bulletproof. And when you talk to that CEO who had to make a phone call to a family, or go stand in a hospital, or worse, go to a wake for an employee – it’s left an indelible mark on their lives.” 

Avoid the alternative – start building your culture of safety beginning with the office responsible for setting the company’s vision: the CEO. By creating, sharing, and engaging in dialogue about safety at the management level, priorities are set. Remember: safety should always be vital enough to warrant executive discussion.

Engaged employees nearly always associate their engagement based on the “ownership” principle. Safety culture – through encouraging employee input – is a powerful, simple way to pass ownership on to your employees. Open discussions on the work floor, and input-sessions during safety meetings are thoughtful ways to encourage ownership and engagement within your work culture. Your employees need to feel that they’re able to approach you, as a part of the team – and that you will always listen.
Begin creating a safety culture in your workplace today, by first beginning concerned discussions around established safety procedures. Then, when the entire team has agreed that safety must become a priority – conduct a full, inclusive safety audit to understand where your efforts need to be directed next.

Want help convincing leadership that your organization’s culture needs to change? Download our Culture is #1 whitepaper, here, to reference as you move forward.

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