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WHS Practitioner/Advisor – Do your systems support your goals?

Strong cultures offer reliable consistent guidance about attitudes and behaviors. The word culture comes from the farming concept of ‘cultivation’ refers to the organisational forces that shape behavior through mechanisms such as workplace norms, support, modeling, and communication.

A strong health and safety culture is a key to profitability, sustainability, reduced compensation costs and other success measures.  With an aging workforce, impact of chronic disease in the workplace and competitive labor market businesses, using targeted strategies to build health and wellbeing at work will have greater business performance and people outcomes.

Health and safety culture elements

Research over many years has consistently revealed that there are key elements that support a strong, sustainable culture of health and safety. These include leadership, communication and training. The underpinning enablers within all three elements are in the form of systems, symbols and behaviours.

Leadership

  • Commitment: effective and sustained that is supported by practical, relevant and robust systems coupled with a visible and ongoing presence in the workplace.
  • Engagement: through active consultation and communication with all workers.
  • Visibility: through leaders being ‘seen’ by workers, visiting work sites and listening to ideas, issues and concerns e.g. actively engaging in health and safety initiatives.

Communication

  • Timely: proactive, effective and sustainable communication processes and protocols.
  • Effective: that can be readily accessed and easily understood provided in an open manner ensuring that messages reach the intended audience e.g. intranet news updates, staff emails, information sessions.
  • Measurable: communication processes and mechanisms for information dissemination are regularly reviewed to ensure effectiveness.

Training

  • Targeted: early induction training, ongoing toolbox sessions, workshops, information sessions and tailored programs aimed at gaining engagement, commitment and ownership of safety culture at all levels within the organisation.
  • Relevant: content is up to date and has been specifically designed to address a gap in knowledge and/or skill level e.g. include health and safety topics in workforce planning and skill development programs.
  • Accessible: encouraging participation and attendance, making it easy for people to incorporate into their daily work activities e.g. staff training requirements incorporated into business planning, programmed attendance.
Page last updated: 07 Mar 2014