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Safety Culture and Organisational Change

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Each organisation, as a corporation, possesses a culture. Read the official documents and you will conclude that this culture is meant to give rise to near-identical cultures throughout the company’s organisational units.  In the real world, however, that is not axiomatic: each location’s culture is different.  This difference can lead to issues for safety managers at headquarters who have to ensure a proper safety system is in place at every site.

Similarly, organisations with several facilities report varying data when it comes safety performance across their different locations. Why such divergences? Culture? Where there is a proactive approach to safety you will see lower rates of injury; in other cases, the Serious Injury or Fatality (SIF) rate remains high, even over the long term.

So many ingredients go into creating a culture – from age and gender through educational, geographical and regional factors to the hundreds or more causes that are always in play – that it is very difficult to determine exactly which mix of factors has brought about the characteristics of an organisation’s culture.  Culture can coalesce at a glacial pace and, indeed, can seem as immobile as a glacier. Certainly, culture cannot be changed instantly.

In addition, when it comes to safety, there are multiple cultures in the frame. Each worker has their own individual safety culture, as does every facility. On top of that, headquarters too has a culture: in many cases, this trio is clashing.

In the face of these realities, leaders in safety management have a proven solution for transforming a culture: the fostering of a climate at work that does not take safety lightly, rather than the attempt to implement a new culture.

Unlike the culture, the climate of an organisation can undergo change with near-immediate effect. Fresh systems and procedures, together with the appointment of new leaders, can mean that the workplace climate undergoes swift and production change. This contrasts with culture, where any evolution occurs over a longer span, sometimes well beyond the short term. Anyone wanting to alter a company’s culture would do well to tackle the climate, allowing a new culture to emerge in due course.

“Safety Culture and Organisational Change” sets out the five components of any kind of change in an organisation, identifying a quartet of characteristic pitfalls that can crop up on the journey to any fresh approach to safety. Readers are provided with a practical and proven roadmap that will lead to a much-improved level of safety – whether in the workplace, behind the wheel or at home.

“Safety Culture and Organisational Change”: Content details

  • Written by Gary A. Higbee
  • File type: PDF
  • Length: Six pages
  • File size: 1.9 MB