A true safety culture requires a common vision from everyone involved.
The easiest way to instill a common vision on your campus? Strong, consistent leadership.
Leaders establish values, develop procedures, and enforce accountability for their safety programs. Good leadership empowers team members, and empowered team members are the dream of every leader–they’re able to work on a team or independently, often with or without instruction. This is helpful when you’re unable to be in twenty places at once during an emergency.
Leadership is not about attributes of the leaders, but rather behaviors they exhibit. Values are aligned with each person taking responsibility for safety. Each layer of the team is a layer within the company. Those who possess safety leadership inspire and influence others to do the same through their actions. Safety leaders’ decisions should be supported by management so leaders can empower and guide others to develop a strong, independent performance.
Once you have strong leadership and empowered team members, you’re able to achieve true safety culture: “The product of individual and group values, attitudes, perceptions, competencies, and patterns of behavior that can determine the commitment to, and the style and proficiency of, an organization’s health and safety management system.”
What would a safety leader do to influence and empower team members? Here are a few examples:
- Prioritize safety in all situations.
- Lead by example, keeping in alignment with the common vision. Employees should truly believe in same vision that motivates leadership through management-shared goals.
- Maintain open communication with team members, have clearly defined roles and accountability, and actively listen. Employees need to know they are heard and respected.
- Run through drills together, meet in the workplace, and have proactive discussions with management.
- Maintain effective reporting from staff and solicit feedback from employees/staff.
- Implement changes to improve conditions – nothing should be done simply because “it’s the way it’s always been done.”
- Provide effective training for all staff, allowing for ownership and a positive step forward, and include a feedback mechanism.
- Create a learning culture. Staff should be involved in learning by contributing ideas for improvement.
- Provide recognition. Safety leaders should deliver good information and recognize achievements.
- Maintain an open culture. Safety leaders demonstrate care, and staff should be able to report any concerns.
- Implement effective communication.
Are you a strong safety leader? Is your staff empowered? What do your team meetings look like? Could any of your staff members handle an emergency without your presence? If not, don’t be afraid to ask for help – sometimes it takes a safety expert to spur the chain reaction that creates a strong safety culture. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like a Joffe representative to attend one of your meetings.
Melissa Pierce, Communication Manager