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Three Key Steps to Cultivating a Safety Culture

‍© CEphoto, Uwe Aranas

Safety is the new bottom line. In the coatings industry, workers are routinely exposed to risks such as working with hazardous chemicals, using dangerous machinery, or working at height. Often, decision makers put off safety concerns until there is an incident that forces them to take action. Cultivating a culture of safety that empowers employees at every level will protect employees and ultimately result in savings. Safety incidents are rarely inexpensive and can even ruin a business.

To create a robust safety culture with buy-in at all levels, management and the workforce must come together to make a commitment to communication, continued professional development, and employee well-being.

Define safety and set goals. Create a sturdy foundation and get employees and management on board by setting goals, measuring your organization’s current safety protocols, and developing an improvement plan. Ensure that this strategy is clearly communicated throughout all levels of the organization-- and remember to celebrate successes with the whole company, as well.

Empower employees to make safety a priority. Although a lasting safety culture should originate in management, it’s essential that workers at all levels are empowered to make decisions, report issues, and take action when safety is in question. According to a report by Industrial Safety and Hygiene News, managers must consider safety when developing quota and incentive systems: “If employees are rewarded for hitting the company quota on injury rates or days without incidents, they may be discouraged from reporting incidents. This can cause near misses to go unreported and put workers’ safety in a fragile state.”

Make safety more than just a slogan. You might be talking the talk, but companies need to spend time and money on ensuring their employees receive ongoing health and safety training.  Leadership must implement processes for reporting injuries, first aids and near misses-- as well as train employees to use these processes. When workers see that their employer is investing in a culture of safety, the program’s importance trickles down to each individual in the company.

Through the NACE International Institute Contractor Accreditation Program (NIICAP), best practices and shared experiences give contractors a roadmap for enhanced health, safety, and environmental (HSE) performance. Collective efforts of industry leaders and stringent requirements for NIICAP members are elevating HSE importance and education. Regular audits create a culture of HSE adherence, training, awareness, and compliance.

Building a framework around health and safety management not only reduces accidents, injuries, and work stoppages; it communicates to clients and employees that your organization’s values are in line with high-quality, detail-oriented work.

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