Every organisation has a culture, but not all are equally safe.

Safety Culture can be summed up in the phrase, ‘the way we do things around here’.

A great safety culture is when people continue to work safely and do the right things … even when no-one is watching and a culture that “allows the boss to hear bad news” without fear or trepidation.

There is no doubt working through COVID has changed our safety focus to the more immediate health needs such as hygiene, social distancing and, vaccinations. If your organisation has worked through COVID, have you noticed a change in your safety culture and behaviours? Do you know the status of your safety culture is with employees now working from home and the disruptions and readjustments to work practices and behaviour over the last 18 months during COVID?

It will be prudent we now need to start planning for 2022 and beyond. To refocus on safety practices and behaviours beyond COVID and as managers lead the way forward.

To lead this cultural change in your workplace, you need to have a clear vision and purpose, a clear roadmap of where you want your safety culture to go, but first you need to understand where you are starting. This is defined as your “Safety Climate, “the shared perceptions of safety policies and procedures by members of an organization at a given point in time,”

Safety culture and safety climate are two different things, but they work together.

Safety culture is the value placed on safety and the extent to which people take personal responsibility for safety in an organisation and takes time to develop. Safety culture is a multi-layered phenomenon often described as the “personality” of an organisation, as it is a shared value of safety.

A positive safety culture exists when employees understand the importance of safety and exhibit positive safety behaviours, such as wearing mask, social distancing, washing hands without being asked, completing risk assessments for all tasks, and reporting all hazards and incidents.

Safety climate is the perceived value placed on safety in an organisation at a particular point in time. Therefore, we can think of safety climate as the “mood” of an organisation, based on what workers experience at a specific time. This perceived value can be a useful lead indicator that underpins a company’s health and safety strategy moving forward.

Since safety climate is a snapshot of safety at one point in time, it can change quickly, for example, an incident or the implementation of a new safety process may heighten the safety climate. There is enough evidence to suggest that COVIDSafe planning has impacted the safety climate of organisations.

Also, safety climate is a good indicator of safety performance because it captures the attitudes and perceptions towards safety at a specific point in time, “a snapshot of your cultural picture”. 

To achieve this snapshot, you need to complete an honest assessment of your current situation. The best way to measure safety climate is through a safety review and surveys, and this is where Ai Group can help. The most effective review is one undertaken by an independent, qualified, and competent Ai Group WHS consultant. By undertaking a Safety Climate review, we can objectively measure your employees shared perceptions and the extent to which safety is valued within your organization, reveal your organisation’s pain points, knowledge gaps and areas for attention. This review can also help you to understand why it is happening and therefore how to resolve “pinch point” or improve safety culture.

So, the next step is to address the Safety Climate review findings with a robust action plan. Questions such as: how is your organisation going to improve, what steps must it take to achieve change, what are the measures for success? An Ai Group WHS Consultation can help you through this step by developing a customised plan and then guiding along the way.

A customised plan is still not enough, it also needs safety leaders like you, to inspire others to have positive attitudes towards safety by setting a good example of safety and rewarding employees for good safety behaviours. As a safety leader you can influence the safety climate and over time have an impact on the safety culture.

An Ai Group WHS Consultant can help you to understanding your “snapshot point in time” safety climate and continue to support you as you lead the way and create a positive safety culture, which has can only lead to a better safety performance and keeping your employees safe at work.

Find out more about an Ai Group Safety Climate Review 

Trinette Jaeschke
Trinette is Ai Group's National Manager - Safety and Workers' Compensation Services. She has more than 20 years’ experience in  Work Health Safety and Injury Management within the private and public sector, including transport and logistics, manufacturing, warehousing, agriculture, mining, finance, food processing, foundries, health services and aged care. As a well-rounded safety professional, her in-depth knowledge includes workplace wellness coaching, risk management strategies and the development and implementation of sustainable safety management systems.