Get access to the exclusive HR Resources you need to succeed in 2018.
Sign up for free email newsletters and get more SHRM content delivered to your inbox.
Is your employee handbook keeping up with the changing world of work? With SHRM's Employee Handbook Builder get peace of mind that your handbook is up-to-date.
Build competencies, establish credibility and advance your career—while earning PDCs—at SHRM Seminars in 14 cities across the U.S. this fall.
Gain the skills you need to rise to the next level in your career. Jon us at SHRM's Leadership Development Forum, October 2-3 in Boston.
Members may download one copy of our sample forms and templates for your personal use within your organization. Please note that all such forms and policies should be reviewed by your legal counsel for compliance with applicable law, and should be modified to suit your organization’s culture, industry, and practices. Neither members nor non-members may reproduce such samples in any other way (e.g., to republish in a book or use for a commercial purpose) without SHRM’s permission. To request permission for specific items, click on the “reuse permissions” button on the page where you find the item.
Most organizations’ “safety cultures” can be classified within four types; the challenge for safety officers is to move low-level safety cultures to higher levels, a safety expert says.
A company’s safety culture generally reflects the overall culture of an organization, Robert Pater, managing director of Strategic Safety Associates, said during an Oct. 7, 2008, presentation at the Executive Safety Summit in Arlington, Va. In addition, most employees develop their attitudes toward safety from their employer, he said. “Basically, they [employees] get their safety habits from work.” The four types of safety cultures are forced culture, protective culture, involved culture and integral culture.
The forced culture uses bribes and threats to motivate employees, according to Pater. “It’s a carrot and stick culture” where health and safety officers are seen as the “safety police” because code enforcement is the name of the game, he said. Health and safety officers are there to catch employees doing something wrong and write them up. The problem is that most organizations that have forced—or “got you”—cultures receive minimal job performance from workers because fear does not cultivate high-level performance, Pater added.
The protective culture implements safety programs for employees; its main feature is that it produces endless “policies and procedures,” Pater said. When a worker violates a policy or procedure, management’s first reaction is to write more policies and procedures, he said. Thus, the risk of having this type of culture is the creation of an unending flow of regulations that leave everyone confused. In addition, protective cultures “produce average [job] performance within an industry,” he said.
The involved culture is characterized by high levels of safety training sessions held for employees but not attended by top management, according to Pater. Morale is higher at organizations with involved cultures because management is less interested in monitoring behaviors and prefers to “monitor by performance.” However, involved cultures that are “doing OK” run the risk of settling for OK, which supports the notion that “the good can be the enemy of great,” he adds.
The integral culture is characterized by high levels of safety training for employees—training sessions that are attended by top management, including the CEO, Pater said. Organizations with integral safety cultures are characterized by safety officers that have budgets and authority, he said.
An organization can move from its current level of safety culture to the next level, but for that to happen the official first has to identify where the firm is, Pater said. Once the safety official has determined that level, the next step requires determination to move up at least one level. The safety officer has to identify the obstacles that are keeping the organization from moving to the next level and must overcome those obstacles, he said.
Safety officers need to develop relationships with the highest level of company executives with the goal of getting senior managers excited about achieving high-level safety cultures within a firm, Pater said. When senior managers get excited about achieving high levels of safety culture, the firm likely will devote the time and money needed to reach the goal, he explained.
J.J. Smith is an online editor/manager for SHRM.
You have successfully saved this page as a bookmark.
Please confirm that you want to proceed with deleting bookmark.
You have successfully removed bookmark.
Please log in as a SHRM member before saving bookmarks.
Please sign in as a SHRM member before saving bookmarks.
Please purchase a SHRM membership before saving bookmarks.
An error has occurred
CA Resources at Your Fingertips
SHRM’s HR Vendor Directory contains over 10,000 companies