A great workplace safety culture looks after all aspects of staff wellbeing

By Curtis Guglielmana

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Workplace health and safety encapsulates the mindsets, attitudes, and behaviours of all staff toward safety in the workplace. A great workplace safety culture is inspired by committed leadership who empower everyone to look for opportunities to evolve its safety culture and initiatives. 

Proactive organisations identify issues before they become costly problems and injuries, and a positive safety culture is vital to ensure employees feel comfortable reporting safety issues to their supervisors. 

Furthermore, compliance is one of the most critical factors, so companies must be having the right conversations with their employees to get them fully engaged with workplace safety procedures.

Cultivating a good safety culture

While it can be challenging to enforce procedures and safety guidelines, lack of compliance has serious consequences. Aside from employee wellbeing and livelihoods being affected, serious injury has a cascading wave of impacts on an employer, including financial and legal liabilities.

Therefore, it is always important for employers to consider how proactive they are in finding risk factors and putting control measures in place. Good managers and supervisors understand that when employees raise a safety issue, it’s another opportunity for improvement. Fostering this kind of ‘opportunity mindset’ allows them to identify and respond to concerns productively. 

They also need to maintain accountability. All boxes can be ‘ticked’ in terms of safety policies and procedures, but if the company fails to manage and maintain accountability, the workplace remains at risk. 

Most of all, it is integral to be consistent with procedures so that all employees are delivered a clear and unwavering safety message.

Psychological safety is as important as physical safety

Well-known workplace safety hazards are generally centred around physical threats, such as ergonomic, logistical, biological/chemical or ‘organisational’ risks. However, psychological hazards are becoming increasingly prevalent and need to be considered too.

With this in mind, employers must be cognizant of various factors that can contribute to a decline in the mental wellbeing of staff. These include:

  • High (or low) job demands
  • Low job control
  • Poor support or workplace relationships
  • Low role clarity
  • Poor change management
  • Remote or isolated work
  • Violent or traumatic events in the workplace
  • Low reward and recognition

How can leaders ensure their staff are on board with an overall safety mindset?

  • Communicate. Make safety policies readily accessible and hold regular safety talks (increase buy-in by having workers lead).
  • Provide training. Trained employees embrace safety culture more readily because they are aware of hazards and the effect they can have on maintaining workplace safety. Review key messages from training sessions often to reinforce learning.
  • Lead by example. If management commits to safety procedures, employees will follow suit. Safety is more than talking the talk - it is walking the walk.
  • Develop and implement a positive reporting process. Reward employees who report safety hazards or concerns. A positive safety culture will be much easier to build and maintain when employees feel comfortable reporting concerns and believe that the reporting process is positive.
  • Involve workers. A strong safety culture starts from the ground up. Involve employees in the process. Ask them what they would like the reporting process to look like, or get their feedback on current communication methods.

Konekt Workcare helps clients maintain safe workplaces

Our team at Konekt Workcare helps thousands of employers across Australia build healthy workplaces and prevent workplace injuries.

We provide tailored prevention and education programs as well as conducting WHS audits, compliance and consulting, and tailored and accredited training. We also deliver consultancy on ergonomics, manual handling, mentally healthy workplaces, incident management, and pre-employment screening assessments.

Are you an allied health professional looking to take your next exciting career step? Head to our website for job opportunities at Konekt Workcare and subscribe for more articles.

Published on Jul 26, 2021

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