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Safety First - New tool measures safety climate

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by Journal Of Commerce last update:Oct 2, 2014

We're all aware that the cumulative safe or unsafe actions and attitudes about safety on our worksites create the safety culture.
Mike McKenna
Mike McKenna

 

The two terms safety culture and safety climate are inevitably tied.

Safety climate is a relatively new term in the construction world that refers to the working environment that sets the stage for the type of safe or risky behaviours workers take part in.

In the last few years, a number of major disasters, including the high-profile Deep Water Horizon oil-drilling platform explosion, have highlighted the impact of organizational factors on safety performance.

Numerous inquiries have identified ‘safety culture’ as having a definitive impact.

Safety culture, or the way safety is perceived, valued and prioritized in an organization has been studied.

It not only has an obvious and direct effect on accident rates, it also impacts on productivity, reliability, competitiveness and even employee morale (see study by Dr. Richard D. Fulwiler, worldwide director of safety for P&G, of Cintas, a subsidiary company).

So how does your company turn your safety culture around? It starts by first taking the pulse of your organization’s safety climate.

A new tool out of the United Kingdom, The Safety Climate Tool, is a software program for companies to measure the perceptions of their workforce to health and safety issues through a series of tailored questions.

The results ensure that valuable company resources are focused where they are needed and where they will be most effective.

>>As industry’s non-profit construction safety association, the B.C. Construction Safety Alliance (BCCSA) has through a partnership with the UK’s Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL), an agency of the HSE, been allowed to use the survey tool on a limited basis with the aim to get a benchmark of B.C.’s construction industry safety climate.

Currently we are seeking companies throughout the province that have a safety management system in place to conduct a pilot run of the Safety Climate Tool.

The survey will be administered to workers, supervisors and management within a firm in order to produce meaningful reports that will help improve the application of the system for better safety results.

The software produces a number of graph reports showing the various responses relative to position in the company. Not only will these results be presented to companies for their consideration, but these reports will provide the BCCSA with a benchmark of health and safety in B.C.

In construction safety, we often talk about safety culture and this safety climate tool will be a way for the BCCSA to benchmark where the safety culture is at within the construction workforce in the province.

A BCCSA regional safety adviser (RSA) reviews the results with the company to determine what is working and what isn’t, and can help develop a work plan for improvement.

One company that has used the survey so far has said the results have provided them with valuable feedback that can help them see where their safety processes and procedures are breaking down.

Knowing that safety culture and how safety is perceived on site affects accident rates, productivity, reliability, competitiveness and even employee morale is a driving force to remedy any disconnect between what’s on paper and what’s happening in the field.

Organizations with an effective safety culture have realized that by making safety an asset that it brings positive, demonstrable results throughout their business.

>To access the safety climate tool for your organization please contact the BCCSA at 1.877.860.3675 or at info@bccsa.ca.

Mike McKenna is the executive director of the B.C. Construction Safety Alliance. Direct comments or questions to editor@journalofcommerce.com.

last update:Oct 2, 2014

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