Creating a Culture of Safety Starts from the Top Down

weldingAt some point or another in their careers, just about everybody has worked at a place where most of their co-workers just didn’t seem to care much about what happens.

Inaccurate or damaged orders may have been shipped without being double checked. Safety standards may have been ignored or glossed over. And “looking the other way” may have been more common than actually caring about what was going on.

Odds are you didn’t stick around very long at that company.

Most people genuinely want to care about what they do. So when conscientious employees they find themselves in an organization where people don’t care — especially about something as important as safety — the first thing they usually look for is the door.

Creating a Company Culture

So what differentiates a business that is committed to safety and one that could care less? Typically, it has to do with the company’s culture.

Some companies define their culture by means of a written “Mission Statement”. For others, it’s more about the attitude people bring to their jobs every day. Both are defined by the business’s leadership.

When ownership doesn’t care, it’s nearly impossible for its employees to care. But when the company’s leaders are passionate about safety and continually reinforce their values to employees, it’s much easier for rank-and-file workers to get on board.

As it turns out, attitude is infectious.

Leading by Example

Employees naturally look to their leaders for attitude cues. If supervisors, managers, and executives don’t care about safety, then those working beneath them won’t either.

Creating a happy and safe work environment starts from the top down. Ownership needs to prioritize safety in every aspect of the organization. Only then will others follow suit.

But it goes beyond simply saying that you care about safety. Everybody on the management team — from the C-suite to line-level supervisors — needs to take a hands-on approach to workplace safety, walking the floors, spotting problems and correcting them immediately, and actively reinforcing to employees that they genuinely care about creating a safe workplace.

Drinking the Kool-Aid

Actions, not just words or mission statements, are what create a corporate culture. Front line workers won’t be fooled by lip service when it comes to workplace safety. They need to see that the people in charge prioritize safe practices and genuinely care about their well-being.

Otherwise, they are going to take the path of least resistance and you will have a “toxic workplace” where workers simply don’t care.