How to improve safety culture in construction
By David Cant
CSI your Workplace – No, we’re not saying every workplace is a crime scene… not that type of CSI. Here we’re talking about continuous safety improvement.
Establishing and improving safety culture in construction is not a finite process with a start a middle and an end. It’s something you need to work at and continue to improve as time moves on.
The benefits of instilling and improving safety culture in construction is clear. A safer work environment means fewer accidents, a happier workforce and less time lost due to recovery. While the impact is on the bottom line, the driver should be your employees.
To that end, there follows a list of steps that can generate and continually grow a culture of safe practice in any working environment.
The seven steps to safety improvement
Step 1 – Starting at the top.
Any culture in the workplace has to have buy-in from the C-suite or board level. Without the bill-payers onboard, cultural change will be slow if it happens at all. Get the execs on the same page (maybe with the financial impact of doing nothing like a warning) and move from there.
Step 2 – Continual progress and evolution.
As mentioned earlier, there is no end to improving safety culture in construction; it’s an ongoing thing. Take the data that is generated by monitoring and use it to drive improvement. With actual data, the constant effort can be directed where it’s needed most.
Step 3 – Dedication.
If you want to incorporate safety as part of every day, it has to be upheld by a wide range of champions. That’s why you need to create a dedicated team to monitor and drive changes. The team should be cross-level and discipline but (importantly) not hierarchical. All members of this team are equal – that way, their inputs will genuine and, more often than not, be based on the insight that the board wouldn’t have considered.
Step 4 – Back to basics.
For safety to be intrinsic to a culture, it has to be reflected in the core values. Revisit your corporate plan, your business strategy and your whole ethos and ask yourself if safety runs through every process. You may be surprised just where it’s missing.
Step 5 – It’s good to talk.
It’s vital if you want to embed a safety culture within your company. By talking, and more importantly having a two-way conversation, you will help your team to feel engaged and part of the narrative, rather than just numbers in a plan.
Step 6 – Don’t operate in a bubble.
Having one meeting and acting on the decisions isn’t enough. When a new action is determined and implemented, its effectiveness is dependent on its success – and more importantly, the recognition and measurement of that success. By evaluating as you go, the impact can be managed and maximised.
Step 7 – Always on it.
It’s no use setting safety as a temporary target – to embed within a culture; it has to be continually monitored and evolve as safety culture evolves. The true measure of success will be the change of behaviour and also the continued will to improve time and time again.
So there you have it – seven relatively simple steps on how to improve safety culture in construction. Still, if you follow them all, and keep evolving, then safety will become fully integrated into your company culture, and the impact will benefit staff morale, staff retention and the bottom line.