“Safety Policy, Leadership And Culture” are the core elements of every occupational health and safety system.
It is the prime responsibility of safety leaders to develop and implement policies and enforce accountability. They can be the initiators and supporters of a culture of blame or of a no-blame approach. Cultural traditions and policies play a role in a leader’s style.
Hence safety policy, leadership and culture must be interlinked. Let’s study “HOW”?
An organization’s safety policy is a recognized, written statement of its commitment to protect the health and safety of the employees, as well as the surrounding community. The safety policy also details the measures the company leader takes to protect the life, and health of their employees, often surpassing the requirements set out by the laws or by the standard practices of the industry.
There are generally three sections in a safety policy, which include:
- Statement of the policy – The employer’s commitment to managing health and safety and the goal of the policy
- Responsibility – Stating who is responsible for implementing, enacting, and tracking each element of the policy
- Arrangements or procedures – Outlines the details of procedures including the reduction of hazard policy
Safety Leadership is defined as “The process of defining the desired state, setting up the team to succeed, and engaging in the discretionary efforts that drive the safety value,” which broadly boils down to “engaging in and maintaining culture that help others achieve safety goals”.
Safety Leadership is a vital component of any Safety, Health & Environment process.
Common Safety Leadership strategies appear to be:
- Improves employee’s safety culture in the organisation
- Independently reduces lost time and minor injury frequency rates.
- Creates better business continuity, thereby increasing productivity by avoiding incidents, accidents, breakdowns and process failures
- Helps reduce insurance premiums.
- Improves standing and reputation among suppliers, clients and partners.
- Leads to better all-round economic performance
A safety culture is an organisational culture that places a high level of importance on safety beliefs, values and attitudes—and these are shared by the majority of people within the company or workplace. It can be characterised as ‘the way we do things around here’. A positive safety culture can result in improved workplace health and safety (WHS) and organisational performance.
Companies that want to have a positive safety culture, which everyone owns, should develop and promote leaders with the right knowledge, skills and attitudes to successfully undertake the responsibilities of the safety.
INTERLINK BETWEEN “SAFETY POLICY, LEADERSHIP AND CULTURE”
SAFETY POLICY AND LEADERSHIP
What an organisation does is driven by the leadership of the organisation. Leaders establish the safety policies and are able to support the creation of mindfulness. They develop and implement Policies and enforce accountability. They can be the initiators and supporters of a culture of blame or of a no-blame approach.
As a designer leaders can directly influence safety. Safety leaders must take account of the General Principles of Prevention when designing safety policy. The Principles of Prevention are a hierarchy or risk elimination and reduction.
Leadership is infinitely more important than policy, for leaders, through their actions and decisions, send clear messages throughout the organization as to which policies are important and which are not. Organizations sometimes state via policy that health and safety are key values, and then construct measures and reward structures that promote the safety culture.
SAFETY POLICY AND SAFETY CULTURE
Having a policy on safety seldom achieves anything unless it is followed up with systems that make the policy live. At each level of the organization; policies must be defined, there must be a valid measure of performance and a reward contingent upon performance. Thus, safety policy does not drive performance of safety; accountability does. Accountability is the key to building culture. It is only when the workers see supervisors and management following their safety policies that they believe that management is credible and that top management really meant it when they signed the safety policy documents.
LEADERSHIP AND SAFETY CULTURE
Leadership is crucial to safety results, as leadership forms the culture that determines what will and will not work in the organization’s safety efforts. A good leader makes it clear what is wanted in terms of results, and also makes it clear exactly what will be done in the organization to achieve the results.
There is a statistically significant relationship between leadership style and safety culture in the company. Organizational leaders are responsible for setting the culture and climate of the organization. Leadership behaviour is a factor in achieving safety culture in an organization.
Leaders have a tremendous impact on company culture. They set the agenda, prioritise work, manage, lead, and delegate. Strong leaders provide a sense of vision, purpose, mentorship, and inspiration to those they lead.
The relationship between a leader and safety culture is a critical connection—if the link is weak or negative, the study showed that employees will be disconnected from other aspects of culture as well.
It is obvious from the above that “Safety Policy, Leadership And Culture” are interlinked.
Leadership is crucial to safety results, as leadership forms the culture that determines what will and will not work in the organization’s safety efforts. , for leaders, through their actions and decisions, send clear messages throughout the organization as to which policies are important and which are not. Organizations sometimes state via policy that health and safety are key values. Safety Culture is established not only by written policy, but rather by leadership; by day-to-day actions and decisions.
Safety culture is created by the actions of leaders. The executive leaders publish a safety policy in which they affirm:
- The value of each employee and of the group, and their own commitment to safety; relate safety to the continuance of the company and the achievement of its objectives
- Express their expectations that each individual will be responsible for safety and take an active part in developing the workplace culture healthy and safe.
Hence without any doubt we can state that “Safety Policy, Leadership And Culture” are interlinked.
As James Reason said, “An ideal safety culture with a proper safety policy is the engines that are driven by the leaders towards the goal of sustaining the maximum resistance towards its operational hazards and Effective safety leadership and employee engagement are that engine’s fuel.”
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