Safety culture development through effective leadership and management
Overview of safety culture
There is increased need for a safe environment in every aspect of human life. Emphasis on the safety culture has thus become one of the most important considerations of managerial functions kin many organizations. The role of management includes ensuring the organization is promoting a safe environment for all its employees and all the surroundings of the organization. The safety culture is often centered on individuals within the organization and grows to fill the entire organization. It is individuals who observe safety practices and by effect contributing to a safe environment in the organization. While individual practices are important in enhancing safety culture, it is the role of management to ensure that it sets standards of safety that are practiced both individually and collectively in the organization (Antonsen, 2009).
Safety culture in the organization – the role or management
The entire management of organizations, beginning with individuals who have authority in the organization to the entire front-line managers to the employees must fully take part in enforcing a safety culture in the organization. All these teams have to show systematic efforts so as to reduce or totally draw away the susceptibility to potential hazards. The vulnerable situations are created by the susceptibility to physical hazards as well as work practices that put employees at great risks of getting injured. This presents a picture that all people in the organization are charged with the responsibility of ensuring that the organization is running according to the laid down 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 working environment is a cultural issue. More assumptions lie in this philosophy. It is believed that a safety culture in the organization results in the achievement of the ultimate desired goal which is having zero incidences in the place of work. Therefore, achieving a safety culture in the organization is a comprehensive continuous process. This process must be managed in order to retain its ultimate aim, which is maintaining an organizational environment that is free from incidences. The process of developing a safety culture involves several steps that have to be clearly grasped by the management:-
The understanding and singling out all the possible incidences that can result from the existence and promotion of an un-safe 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 incidences from happening in the organization.
The implementation which is followed by continued monitoring of the rules to ensure that the organization remains safe always.
The continuity or need for sustenance of the safety standards is the most difficult aspect in the maintenance of a safety culture in the organization. This is what invites the managers in the entire process of maintaining such a culture in the organization. Managers take the whole responsibility of ensuring that the rules appertaining to safety are in tandem with the emerging standards of environmental management. They also ensure that the rules are implemented to the later and that those who breach the rules face the consequences of their actions. They generally 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 to developing and enforcing a safety culture in an organization. The management is supposed to act as magnet when it comes to the enforcement of a safety culture. The management pulls together all the necessary forces that have the potentiality to help in developing and promoting 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 comes in at this point. The different attitudes of organizational employees towards a safety culture must be harmonized through a common vision. The major role of managers in leading 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 will be 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 with the proper definition of the scope of the safety program which has to be implemented in the organization. This will ease the vision implementation by giving clear guidance on the implementation journey. Most safety programs are moving away from the tradition basis and are now focusing on modern programs 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 other organizations. These programs work for a long period of time; 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 major disruptions to other safety standard being observed as part of the safety culture of the organization (Roughton & Mercurio, 2002).
The loss of protocol in observance of safety standards in the organization often result in the exposure of the organizations to hazards. Such losses or breakages of protocol in the observance of the safety standards of an organization point to a vacuum in the management of the organization and its safety culture. However, such cases cannot be totally eliminated. They must be effectively handled whenever they happen. The effective handling of such cases point out to the leadership quality and ability of organizational managers (McSween & McSween, 2003).
The management must also help in developing trust in management systems being used in implementing the safety culture. Organizational employees will always look on somebody to guide and inspire then in the implementation of a safety culture. The more people are inspired by management, the more they will work on marinating a safety culture. Of importance to leadership in embracing a safety culture is the setting of specific safety objectives that have to be grasped by every member of the management. Objectives are faceting pints of the safety vision of the organization. The objectives have to be used in the measure of the performance of these members at the end of performance periods in the organization. Those who appear to have done well in maintaining the safety standard and procedures of the organization thence the safety culture have to 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 simple instructions in the organization irrespective of the positions that they hold in the organization. Therefore, managers must always when cases of breaching the safety procedures in the organization are reported. A process of improving the safety culture in the organization must 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 for each individual in the organization. Good safety management culture begins with a good safety management team in the organization. This often lies with the management of an organization (McSween & McSween, 2003).
The safety culture of any organization is the product of values and competencies, attitudes, and other forms of behaviors by the both groups and individuals in the organization. This dictates how safety programs are formulated and hoe they work to enhance safety in the organization. Organizations that are deemed to have a positive healthy culture are characterized with good leadership or management which ensures that there is systematic floe 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 measurers depends on the working of safety systems in every department or sector or 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)..
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