A LOT HAS BEEN WRITTEN and discussed about the “safety culture” and its relevance in business and, really, its relevance within any organizational structure. We like to think here at Tucker Paving, Inc., that we have an excellent safety culture, and we have the numbers to back up that conclusion. In June last year, we celebrated more than a million man-hours of work without a single loss-time accident, and so far since then we’ve maintained that very positive course.
We learned many years ago that a good safety culture — a strong and consistent focus on workplace safety — is good for business in many ways.
It’s good, first and foremost, for the welfare of our employees. Physical harm is minimal — if there’s any harm at all.
It’s good in the way we’re perceived, both internally and from the outside. Individuals and organizations like doing business with a company that manages its ship well, one that is highly conscientious, and one that goes all out to take care of its workers.
It’s good for the bottom line. Work down time is minimal, efficiencies are higher, expenses (insurance, worker compensation, maintenance, legal, and others) are lower, and attracting new business tends to be easier.
We mentioned the buzz about the safety culture — in print, online, and at meetings and conferences. What follows is a brief collection of comments on the subject, with a reference to the complete source for each.
“Six Tips to Help You Build a Positive Safety Culture”
Occupational Safety Group, Inc.
“A positive safety culture in the workplace is absolutely a vital part of a successful and effective health and safety program. … The effects of complacency can be catastrophic: accidents, injuries, illnesses, even loss of life could result. Don’t allow this to happen in your workplace.”
The article lists the following tips “to begin establishing and maintaining a strong and positive safety culture in your workplace.”
Lead by example.
Develop and implement a positive reporting process.
Put your JHSC (Joint Health & Safety Committee) into action.
“25 Signs You Have an Awesome Safety Culture”
Of the 25 signs from the article, these stand out:
There is a lack of competing priorities — safety comes in first every time!
There is visible evidence of a financial investment in health and safety.
Opportunities for improvement are identified and resolved before a problem occurs.
“8 Steps to a Strong Safety Culture”
Industrial Safety & Hygiene News (ISHN)
The eight steps include these really good ones:
Define safety responsibilities.
“Five Ways You Can Encourage a Positive Safety Culture”
EHS Daily Advisor
Take the long view. “Rather than looking at safety as a compliance requirement, present it as a continuous process of improvement.”
Look for root causes (of near-misses or accidents).
Accentuate the positive. “Recognition doesn’t have to be expensive or flashy; a positive word at the right moment can lift a worker’s spirits and encourage him or her to continue doing the right thing.”
“7 Ways to Build a Safety Culture”
The Standard: Workplace Possibilities
Why is having a safety culture important? According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s January 2012 white paper, “Injury and Illness Prevention Programs,” every day, more than 12 workers die on the job — or more than 4,500 per year — and, every year, more than 4.1 million suffer serious job-related injury or illness.
What a safety culture is not — “A safety culture is not merely a collection of policies and programs. … These tools can be vital in building and sustaining a safety culture. But tools alone do not make a safety culture.”
Elements of a safety culture can include some resourcefulness — “A stay-at-work program can be yet another strategy or tool to help build a safety culture and prevent injury and/or illness. A specially trained consultant on your team can help offer ergonomic intervention for those employees deemed ‘high risk.’ ”
“Tucker Paving: Using Safety and Return to Work to Save — and Earn — Money”
Tucker Paving, Inc.
“In 2008, when most of the construction industry saw only a sagging economy, (Tucker Paving, Inc.) owner Larry ‘Chip’ Tucker, Jr., saw a new opportunity. He noticed potential clients looking at contractor safety records as a major factor in their bid-selection process. Chip, already safety conscious, notes that, ‘Strengthening our solid safety record would make us a strong candidate for national contracts. This is a high-risk industry that reported 774 fatalities nationwide in 2010 — and safety is the one absolute way to increase bottom-line results. I decided that we could be even better at safety that what we were.’ ”
Top 20 Safety Quotes to Improve Your Safety Culture
“It takes leadership to improve safety.” — Jackie Stewart, former Formula 1 race driver