Safety isn’t just a manufacturer-only concern. Protecting workers from falls and other physical injuries is part of it, but organizational safety also encompasses your employees’ ability to express themselves freely, and to come to work knowing that their confidential information will not be compromised. Whether you’re a small retail operation or a big consulting firm with employees worldwide, safety should be a critical issue. Not only will making safety a priority protect you from being sued, but it will also contribute to the overall strength of your culture.
Digicast is an Australia-based workforce consultancy that recently produced a white paper, Three Factors That Influence Workplace Culture, which connected safety to strong organizational culture. One interesting section dealt with the factors that influence safety. I’ve highlighted these in the “Five Commandments of Safety.”
1. Thou Who Has an Office Shall Clean It.
Digicast cites a study by Dave DeJoy and Todd Smith from the University of Georgia’s College of Public Health, which found that a well-kept site usually means safety is a priority. “If you talk to people who do safety inspections,” DeJoy says, ”they will tell you that the first impression they get when they walk into a factory or construction site—how neat it is and whether employees seem to be actively engaged—often indicates whether a workplace is safe.”
2. Thou Shall Not Overwork Your Employees.
The same study by DeJoy and Smith also found that when work interfered with family demands, job performance was affected and the risk for injury increased by 37 percent. In 2011, when excessive working hours resulted in pilot error on several airlines, the FAA stepped in with regulations. Even if you’re not dealing with human lives, ensuring your employees have solid work-life balance and are satisfied in their roles will enhance safety and culture.
3. Thou Shall Not Make Safety an Afterthought.
says that progressive companies with best-in-class safety records
include safety in all major decisions. Safety is a topic at every board
meeting and all departments consider safety when developing products and
services. Leaders don’t bury their heads in the sand, and HR is totally
on board. “A lot of organizations are set up so there is a wall between
HR and occupational health and safety, but the two can no longer afford
to work in silos,” DeJoy says.
Jonathan Thomas of the National Safety Council adds, “The things that HR leaders are most concerned about are also the building blocks for building a safe workplace.”
Have a look at the AMEX Open Forum for more commandments of a safe work culture.