Like all workplaces facing new airborne health risks, your safety procedures may have dramatically changed. Social distancing, doors without door handles, and plexiglass barriers are becoming commonplace. In some workplaces, employees perceive these changes as cumbersome and onerous.
For workplaces with a safety culture, on the other hand, employees are doing more than supporting shared safety goals. They are continually improving them. If you're ready to build an empowering safety culture, the following are the essential components safety consultants say are required.
Workplace Safety Goals
Safety practices and safety culture are not the same thing. The latter is bottom-up. In a shared safety culture, employees set common safety goals. Their goal-directed attitudes and behaviors then guide the development of a safety culture. Safety management practices, in contrast, are imposed by regulators and management on employees.
In a safety culture, employees are empowered to determine shared goals. These goals are developed around shared values and beliefs. Safety consultants observe that a safety culture, provides employees with:
- a voice in deciding on safety standards.
- the ability to work towards meeting those safety goals.
- accountability for upholding those standards.
During the Coronavirus pandemic, employees, company nurses, and health agencies rated employee health risks higher than the companies did. What happens when employees have different beliefs regarding their safety risks in the workplace? In a top-down world, management imposes its safety rules and values on employees. If the perceived risks of the employees are not being addressed, though, employees will lack trust in the organization. A lack of trust, in turn, will lead to low commitment, motivation, and, ultimately, low productivity.
A Continuous Improvement Culture
In a safety culture, empowered employees are not a health liability but part of the solution. A safety culture requires a way to measure the efficacy of health and safety solutions. The workplace can then implement improvements. Continuous improvement is especially important as workplaces confront new infectious diseases. The solutions require innovative and novel safety procedures. And employee empowerment is well known to promote employee creativity.
The nature of workplace risks is changing. Airborne contaminants are a growing risk. All workers can bear a greater responsibility for ensuring higher standards of occupational hygiene by contributing to developing a safety culture. This safety culture could also create a solution to new workplace health and safety challenges.
If you need help improving the safety regulations and culture of your business, contact a safety consultant for assistance.