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3 simple ways to get management involved in creating a safety culture

October 30, 2013
Time to get involved in Safety ISQEM

By; Wayne J Harris

Quite often organisations struggle to get the safety message across via traditional methods such as employee OHS inductions and safety briefings.  Yet people continue to pursue these methods regardless, mainly because it is still seen as accepted practice within the occupational health and safety profession.

The question we should be asking is “what can we do to get management directly involved in safety”?  There is no doubt there is a need to get participation from all levels of management, especially if you want to establish a positive safety culture

The problem is unless you try various communication strategies you will struggle to get any real involvement. If you’re committed to creating a value driven safety culture with an organisation it is critical that you plan your approach using all available resources internal or external.

So what does Safety Culture mean?

We often use the generic term “Safety Culture”, however when we ask a manager to describe what this means they struggle to come up with an answer.  Now there are many definitions used by people and who is to say what is right or what is wrong.  In 2008 ISQEM created a common definition of “Safety Culture”, which is easily understood within any organisation.

Safety Culture – is the attitude, behaviours, risk perception and values demonstrated by individuals or shared amongst employees within an organisation in relation to awareness and compliance to internal safety standards and processes.

3 Easy ways to get managers involved

Here are 3 simple but extremely effective ways to help raise awareness amongst managers and gain significant input into generating a safety culture.

1. Mentoring

Mentoring is a win-win solution for everyone concerned: the employee, the mentor, and the company.  Utilisation of both internal and external mentors is often viewed as the best approach. Ideally try to get on board a senior OHS practitioner who works at a senior level so they have the credibility and professional branding to gain managers acceptance.

2. Establish you own Safety Culture Events

 This has to be one of the best ways to raise safety awareness and involve various members of your management and supervisory staff.   By establishing a schedule of creative events you can maintain momentum and at the same time get non-safety practitioners to deliver key safety messages. Where possible include short presentations by a client, guest speaker, or even one of your equipment suppliers.

 3. Using Employees to share knowledge gained from External Events

Try and get managers to attend external safety workshops or conferences and establish a company policy that requires them to develop and deliver an internal training or briefing session from lessons learnt from the event. It is highly cost-effective way of gaining value from people attending external events and allows the organisation to disseminate new ideas, and discuss industry trends.

This is an effective management development opportunity because it introduces new ideas to your organization and helps raise safety perceptions. The positive flip side to this is that the individual develop their own personal presentation and communication skills by presenting to other colleagues.


In conclusion if you want to seriously raise the bar within your organisation you need to market and communicate in various ways. It can be simple uncomplicated ways as mentioned above than create a positive difference that will be appreciated by employees.

One thing for sure, failing to use your management team will put your organisations safety culture in jeopardy.  So take a step back and think how you are trying to drive safety, be daring in your ways of thinking and try something different.  You might be surprised at what can be achieved.

Author; Wayne J. Harris

  1. RicK Lewis permalink

    Hi Wayne, I hope you don’t mind I just passed this article on to a group of business people today at a local networking breakfast meeting. It was very well received and safety was talked about for the majority of the meeting

    One of the companies is even going to take up your idea of setting up regular safety culture events. So you definitely made a positive impact.

  2. H.J. Olivier permalink

    Hi Wayne!

    What advise can you give me as Site Safety Officer, if the Site Agent does not have any regard for Health and Safety and there by influencing other personel.At the end everthing suffer not just the Health and Safety,but total discipline on site!

  3. DavidJohn permalink

    Be friendly with the employees, talk with them on break, bring the conversation around to accidents you have witnessed or read about and they will most likely tell you of the ones they have witnessed. Your tact is to ask them what they thought was the cause and gently bring in your own views. Employees will learn from these chats and begin to work safely. The site agent will eventually realise accidents and incidents are dropping and efficiency is growing and so is morale work with this insight.

  4. Vik permalink

    Hi Wayne….

    Thanks for your article….It’s really informative…..but I need a little help on this matter…..

    These managers in all other departments (at least in my company) don’t even participate in creative events and do not wish to go outside for any seminars or events……At the year end time when their top boss pressurizes them for production target, they totally forget safety. After all this, If you have some genuine issues like space constraint in factory….how this mentor also can improve the safety culture? Unfortunately these are the practical problems being faced in many companies. If you could throw some light on how to tackle these things, that would be really helpfull.

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