Safety culture development through effective leadership and management
Overview of safety culture
The need for a safe environment in every aspect of human life has increased in modern days. Emphasis on the safety culture has become one of the most crucial considerations of managerial functions in many organizations. The role of management includes ensuring that the organization promotes a safe environment for the employees, and surrounding environment. The safety culture is often centered on individuals within the organization and grows to fill the entire organization. Individuals observe safety practices and contribute to a safe environment in the organization. While individual practices are essential in enhancing safety culture, it is the role of management to ensure that it sets standards of safety that are practiced individually and collectively in the organization (Antonsen, 2009).
Safety culture in the organization – the role or management
The entire management should participate in enforcing a safety culture in the organization. All the teams should work towards reducing any potential hazards that may be experienced in the organization. The vulnerable situations are created by the susceptibility to physical hazards as well as work practices that place employees at serious risks of being injured. This presents a picture that all people in the organization have the responsibility of ensuring that the organization runs according to the safety rules. While this responsibility remains open to everybody in the organization, there is the aspect of initiative and overseeing which is done by managers (Antonsen, 2009).
According to Antonsen (2009), the development of an effective safety culture emanates from the philosophy that developing a safe work environment is a cultural issue. It is believed that a safety culture in an organization results in the achievement of the desired goals. Therefore, achieving a safety culture in an organization is a comprehensive and a continuous process which should be managed to retain the ultimate goals. The process of developing a safety culture involves several steps that the management should grasp. The steps are as follows:-
Understanding all the possible incidences that can result from the existence and promotion of unsafe culture in the organization
Understanding of the possible remedies or mitigation mechanisms to the possible incidences within the organization
The crafting of safety rules and procedures to aid in preventing accidents from happening in an organization.
The implementation which is followed by continuous monitoring of the rules to ensure that an organization remains safe at all the times.
The continuity of the safety standards is the most challenging aspect in the maintenance of a safety culture in an organization. This requires the intervention of the managers to ensure that the entire process of maintaining such a culture in the organization is achieved. Managers take the responsibility of ensuring that the rules appertaining to safety standards are in agreement with the emerging standards of environmental management. They also ensure that the rules are implemented and that those who breach the rules face the consequences of their actions. They enforce the culture of safety in organizations which they lead (Antonsen, 2009).
The development of effective safety cultures in organizations – effective leadership
Managerial leadership is critical in developing and enforcing a safety culture in an organization. The management is supposed to enforce a safety culture for the welfare of all the stakeholders. The management combines all the necessary forces to help develop and promote a safety culture in the organization. There are different attitudes and cultures that emanate from the environment and that can work against a safety culture in the organization. Therefore, the aspect of leadership in enhancing safety culture is required. The different attitudes of organizational employees towards a safety culture should be harmonized through a common vision. The major role of managers in bringing about a safety culture in the organization is creating the vision which is the basis on which the safety culture grows (Roughton&Mercurio, 2002).
The safety vision guides in the development of mechanisms on which a safety culture is sustained. The vision helps in maintaining a balance between the organization profit motives and the safety culture. The development of a strong vision often starts by defining the scope of the safety program which has to be implemented in the organization. This facilitates the implementation of the vision by giving clear guidance on the implementation journey. Most safety programs are deviatingfrom the traditional basis and are now focusing on modern safety programs which are manager-driven. These programs are networked and seek to follow or work in relation to international safety standards that are implemented by many organizations. These programs work for a long period until the new safety measures are developed. The management then works on mechanisms of ensuring that the organization adopts and continues to implement the new safety standards. This has to be done without significant disruptions to other safety standard being observed as part of the safety culture of an organization (Roughton&Mercurio, 2002).
The loss of protocol in implementing safety standards in the organization results in the exposure of an organization to hazards. Such breaks in protocol during the implementation of the safety standards of an organization show that there is a vacuum in the management of the organization. However, such cases cannot be eliminated totally. They should be handled effectively whenever they happen. The effective handling of such cases shows the leadership quality and ability of organizational managers (McSween&McSween, 2003).
The management should also help in developing trust in the management systems used in implementing the safety culture. Trust is achieved when the needs of employees are fulfilled. Trust improves communication in an organization. Employees always seek guidance and inspiration from other people during the implementation of a safety culture. This can happen when employees trust their senior managers. When the employees are motivated, the performance of an organization improves because all the safety standards are applied. Motivating employees is a requirement when developing and implementing safety culture. Setting safety objectives that have to be grasped by every member of management is essential in embracing a safety culture. Creating clear objectives is essential in implementing the safety vision of the organization. The objectives have to be used to measure the performance of the employees at the end of the performance period. The employees who appear to have done well in maintaining the safety standard and procedures of the organization should be rewarded by the management. A measurement criterion for this process is developed by the management and communicated to the entire members of the organization (Roughton&Mercurio, 2002).
Safety cultures are developed and enhanced through the formation of safety management systems in organizations. The prevention of accidents and incidences in organizations begins with ensuring that everybody follows the basic instructions in the organization irrespective of their positions in the organization. Therefore, managers should take action when cases of breaching the safety procedures in the organization are reported. A process of improving the safety culture in the organization should be initiated in the organization when such cases become inherent in the organization. The safety culture improvement process should actively involve everybody in the organization through instilling personal responsibility in the organization. To introduce a culture that supports safety management, all the stakeholders should be prepared to accept changes in the existing culture. The management team has the obligation of supporting all the stakeholders during the transition process. This enhances the adoption of the desired culture (McSween&McSween, 2003).
The safety culture of any organization is the product of values and competencies, attitudes, and other forms of behaviors by the groups and individuals in the organization. This dictates how safety programs are formulated, and how they work to enhance safety in the organization. Organizations that are deemed to have a positive, healthy culture are characterized with exemplary leadership or management, which ensures that there is systematic flow of communication. Maintaining a safety culture requires commitment from the top leadership of the organization. Safety has to be developed at every level of the organization. The collective adherence to safety measures depends on the working of safety systems in every department or sector of the organization. This can be achieved through supervision. Therefore, a safety culture is fully attained through effective management of safety systems and programs (Roughton&Mercurio, 2002). To ensure that a culture is accepted by all members of an organization, it is necessary to involve every person in developing cultural aspects. This is because a safety culture cannot be achieved when some interest groups are not involved in the entire process. Developing a safety culture is a process which cannot be achieved in a day. Therefore, there is the need to conduct continuous amendments to the organizational culture to improve the existing safety culture.