How to change the workplace safety culture


set out to modify or change the safety culture in the workplace is a daunting task. Working against you is the custom, and practice which have been built up in recent years. However, this is not the biggest challenge. The biggest challenge lies in the belief system that occupies the minds of all. Again, this has been built up over several years, it is not something recent, it is not something that has suddenly occurred, is something that people can be justified by recounting past events.

The phrases commonly heard is “I’ve been doing it this way for 15 years and never hurt me.” “This is a dangerous industry, I have seen many accidents in this place in the past.” “Accidents go with the territory. If you work in this industry you will hurt you.” “You’re still a newbie until you hurt yourself.” “You can not prevent accidents in this industry, they just happen.” “You can not prevent accidents in the workplace, which is why they are called accidents.” “You can not stop accidents, we have been having them for years.”

All this entrenched thinking must change before the culture changes. This type of thinking is part of the current culture. Obviously, you can not go head-to-head with this kind of thinking, you have a more subtle, a different approach that will gradually overcome a very pessimistic approach and replace it with optimism. Get people to question deeply entrenched beliefs and attitudes takes time. After all, it took quite a long time for them to achieve these results and attitude. They will not be changed in a few weeks, and certainly not as a result of a two-day course on security.

secret change the culture of the workplace is to consider very carefully the people who wield influence. They may or may not be in a position of power. Convince them. The problem you are facing is that if you want someone to change their religion, it must be replaced with something else that they can believe in. There is little point in telling people that their beliefs are part of the reason why so many accidents happen. In fact, to tell people what that is, especially how to do the job safely, is likely to create resentment. Especially if they have been carrying out work for several years.

new belief system must be credible. There must be compelling reasons to adopt it. There must be some benefit of the new thinking that will have a positive impact on people in the workplace. By far the best method of promoting this belief, is to lead people to discover it. If you fail to do this, and measure what people should think, you fail in your attempts to change the safety culture in the workplace. There are thousands of examples where changes have been prescribed and failed. It requires much more thoughtful approach and avoid creating resentment within the organization.


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