Workers in the maritime and oil & gas sectors have had some of the riskiest jobs for centuries. The mortality rate of workers on offshore platforms is disturbingly high. Although it has declined greatly over recent decades, these jobs continue to remain amongst the most hazardous of occupations.
While out at sea, even slippery, uneven, or cluttered vessel decks can lead to slip-and-fall accidents. Other common accidents include falling from elevated heights, exposure to harmful chemicals, fires and explosions, and more. As a result, workers can suffer devastating injuries, and even death.
This is where workplace safety culture comes in.
Creating a strong safety culture can protect and save many lives. By promoting a positive attitude toward safety, workers are more likely to follow the rules they know will keep them safe. Also, by encouraging employees to report hazards before they become injuries or even fatalities, you can avoid having any accidents occur in the first place.
To build a workplace safety culture, this article will help you understand the components of a strong safety culture, and 5 tips to help create and maintain it.
How do you define a good safety culture?
A safety culture can be defined as an organisation’s shared values and beliefs that influence employee behavior. This includes people’s attitudes, thoughts, and behaviors about safety on a ship or in an oil and gas environment. It’s important because it can help prevent accidents from occurring—or at least mitigate their impact. A workplace with a positive safety culture will have procedures for ensuring adequate safety and preventing accidents and making sure that employees feel comfortable reporting problems or concerns.
Why is it important?
Here are three key reasons why a company’s safety culture is so important:
1. It prevents injuries and accidents from occurring
A successful safety culture helps create an environment where employees feel comfortable reporting issues on the job, leading to more timely fixes and preventative action. It also allows employees to feel empowered to make decisions about their safety and that of their coworkers.
2. An effective safety culture improves overall productivity
A strong safety culture ensures that a high standard is routinely expected for all safety processes. Therefore, the company is always prepared to deal with safety performance audits, reducing the time taken to prepare for compliance checks.
3. Better employee engagement
When you have established an effective safety culture, employees will require less supervision to adopt safe working habits. In addition, over time, employees feel more committed to preventing safety hazards as they are well aware of their participation and role in the workplace.
What are the 4 key components of a workplace safety culture?
To create a workplace safety culture, these four key characteristics must be in place:
1. Your leaders are committed and invested in successful safety culture
Strong safety culture starts at the top. Your senior leadership team must set the tone by prioritising safety, factor it into bottom-line goals, and ensure their commitment is visible. The company must be willing to invest resources such as time, money, training, and personnel to achieve safety outcomes.
Senior management should also be actively involved in the safety programme activities alongside frontline employees. Leadership must be led by example, and all workers should have opportunities to be trained and certified. Here’s an example of how Total, a leading company in the oil and gas industry, set up a successful workplace safety culture by involving top management.
2. Your employees feel safe to speak up
All employees must feel comfortable reporting unsafe conditions. In addition, they should feel accountable for their own and their coworkers’ safety. To do so, the environment must be safe enough for them to provide suggestions for improvement without fear. Therefore, an efficient and effective communication system must be in place to support the organisation’s safety culture.
3. There are clear processes to identify & control hazards
A straightforward, proactive process to locate and repair workplace hazards is crucial to a safety culture. Start by performing a comprehensive safety assessment. Employees can also conduct a Job Safety Analysis (JSA) for individual tasks. This will help them perform JSA inspections routinely or whenever there is an equipment modification or procedure that could impact safety.
4. State safety goals, purpose, policies & procedures
Your safety programme should have a purpose and goals suited to your workplace. Once those are in place, you can design policies and procedures that reflect your organisation’s particular needs. They must be plainly expressed, in clear terms, and reviewed as necessary.
To ensure the safety culture is sustainable, everyone, from leadership to frontline workers, must remain informed. Ongoing education and training will also improve workplace safety. Even seasoned workers should undergo training, so they know how to make health and safety decisions, especially when new systems are introduced.
What are examples of a good safety culture?
So, you think your organisation’s safety training culture is insufficient, but you are unsure what makes a good safety culture. While there are many examples you can reference, here are three top signs that you are doing it right:
1. All employees demonstrate a working knowledge of health and safety topics
In great workplace safety cultures, all employees have a working knowledge of health and safety topics. In other words — they’re competent in safety practices. They are not afraid to report safety concerns and seek continuous improvement.
2. No competing priorities – safety comes first every time
Your organisation chooses safety every time when it comes to productivity versus safety. In some organisations, risk assessments are neglected as the company tries to increase production. This leads to unnecessary workplace injuries. If your company chooses safety first, even when it costs money, you have a good safety culture.
3. The organisation is willing to invest in health and safety
Safety slogans are excellent, but developing a winning safety culture requires resources. Safety concerns and potential hazards need to be addressed. Investing in safety so that necessary action is taken creates a positive safety culture.
5 Tips to Create and Maintain Safety Workplace Culture
Tip #1: Use a Control Of Work system
Control Of Work is a safety management system ensuring that hazardous job tasks, such as confined space entry or “hot work” like welding and brazing, do not happen unless and until the necessary authorities have reviewed and authorised them.
A system such as SOL-X Control Of Work System helps maintain safe workplace culture as all workflow tasks are streamlined and integrated into one software. All hazardous tasks can be reviewed and monitored seamlessly, which improves efficiency.
For example, our system has a fully integrated end-to-end mobile Permit To Work which is easy to use and encourages the workers to follow the correct procedures, increasing operational safety and compliance.
It also provides greater assurance that Control Of Work processes are observed. This enables Behavior-Based Safety as managers can access peripheral information such as the workers’ location and activity time stamps. Increased situational awareness of the job also motivates the workers to feel more accountable and engaged.
On top of that, SOL-X Control Of Work provides real-time data and continuously analyses high-risk operations through leading indicators and worker safety behavior. This further enhances visibility and promotes a safer workplace culture in dangerous work environments.
Tip #2: Empower workers to participate
Engaging every worker in enhancing workplace safety culture is essential because when you have a culture that makes employees feel valued, they are more likely to participate in creating and maintaining a safe environment.
The SOL-X Crew Protect System helps maintain safe workplace culture while encouraging positive behavior change. Through our SmartWatch, workers can proactively manage their health and well-being. For instance, workers are also empowered to take ownership of their broader health and activity levels. Timely notifications are sent to workers, advising them to hydrate and rest when possible. If feeling unwell, the individual is advised further to seek proper medical advice.
With the SmartWatch, when workers need assistance, they can also activate the Crew Assist function which alerts their supervisor and immediately provides the worker location and task details, speeding up response times.
Workers can also track their activities with the daily step goals feature in the wearable. This promotes healthy living, and the data can be used to measure and track the efficacy of Corporate Wellness programmes. The SmartWatch also allows workers to record and track their Work Rest hours conveniently. By managing working hours and workloads more effectively, the SOL-X SmartWatch reduces the risks of worker fatigue.
Tip #3: Enable employees’ access to critical information
Frontline workers face the most increased risk of injury at work. They spend much of their time on job sites outside the offices and rarely have computer access.
Organisations can improve safety by investing resources so that employees have instant access to necessary documentation and safety materials. Supervisors and safety representatives also need a way to send instant safety updates and alerts. To communicate this information, front-line workers should have access to designated offices or be equipped with mobile technologies such as mobile phones and smart devices. That way, information can be easily made available to them.
Tip #4: Appoint and support safety supervisors
Some organisations may benefit from appointing a health and safety representative because employees hesitate to voice their safety concerns with their direct supervisors. Doing so will empower employees to confidently discuss their safety concerns with representatives who can act as a trusted go-between for frontline employees and managers.
However, it is still the employer’s responsibility to support safety supervisors, allowing them to stay closely connected with employees. Such an appointment can ensure frontline workers feel that they can reach out to someone to report safety hazards.
Tip #5: Keep investing in safety training sessions
Not only does training hold workers accountable for their own safety, but it also gets employees together as a team to learn and practise new skills. Educational programmes are wonderful opportunities to foster a safety culture, whether conducted online or remotely. In addition, it gets participants out of a daily routine, and you can easily include lunch, guest speakers, or other exciting components that are related to your safety and wellness programme.
And because training is conducted regularly, safety remains at the forefront of everyone’s mind. Moreover, your employees will look forward to gatherings where they can engage with coworkers around safety topics.
Boost Your Workplace Safety Culture with SOL-X
To improve your company’s workplace safety culture, harness advanced IIoT technology from SOL-X. Our Control Of Work and Crew Protect systems can help you reduce safety incidents and promote safety in your workforce.
Contact us to learn how you kickstart a safety culture in your workplace today.