How to evaluate your organization's safety culture

How to evaluate your organization's safety culture

Written by Dina Adlouni

Published June 12, 2023

9 Key Areas of Focus

It’s no secret that having a strong safety culture can catapult your safety performance. With everyone invested in protecting one another, employees will feel a greater sense of accountability for creating a safer work environment. 

But how can you truly evaluate how effective your organization’s safety culture is? Read on to discover more on this topic including: 

  • 4 types of safety culture  
  • 9 areas to focus on to evaluate safety culture  
  • How an EHS solution can help elevate safety culture 

4 Types of Safety Culture

There are many different types of safety of culture depending on how strong an organization’s commitment truly is. This has nothing to do with the size of the organization or how many employees it may have, but instead is based on how strongly the team values safety.  

EcoOnline conducted a study of 502 EHS professionals, where we analyzed their organization’s safety performance over a 5-year period. According to the results, organizations were in one of the following categories:   

Low Compliance Culture: A Low Compliance Culture indicates organizations who are only looking to be in compliance with regional regulations. Both participation in safe behaviors and employee adoption rates are low.  

Task Force Culture: Task Force Culture see high safety activities by employees, but low adoption rates. This is because management takes a negative approach to safety where employees are punished when they do something wrong.  

Reactive Culture: A high adoption rate and low number of safety activities is seen per employee in Reactive Cultures. Organizations like these react to safety incidents when they occur and do not have a proactive approach to protect their employees.  

High Participation Culture: In High Participation Cultures, safety is everyone’s responsibility from boardroom executives to front-line employees. High safety activities and adoption rates are found in these companies, where everyone is committed to a proactive safety approach. 

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Getting from one level to the next is no easy feat. Check out our whitepaper, 5 Steps to a Strong Safety Culture to learn key tips to build a safety culture that will last.  

9 Areas of Focus

Now that you know the different types of safety culture organizations may display, it’s time to understand how you can assess your own business’s safety culture.  

According to our internal experts, here are the 9 areas you need to focus on to properly evaluate safety culture:  

1. Perception of Health and Safety

The first area to focus on is the perception of health and safety at your organization. Is there a strong importance placed on health and safety, or is it superficially recognized? Think about whether or not employees are aware of the policies in place, their roles related to health and safety, and how willing they are to share their feedback on safety issues. 

2. Leadership and Management Commitment

Senior leadership must be committed to health and safety, from C-suite leaders to management. Consider whether this is something that is truly prioritized and showcased through their involvement in safety decisions, promoting a safe workplace, and providing support and resources to staff to be able to successfully fulfill their duties.  

3. Employee Involvement

In addition to management, employees must also be heavily involved in building a strong safety culture. This is a two-way street where collaboration between all members is a must to create a safe workplace.  

Think about whether employees are included in developing procedures and policies, if their feedback is taken, and if they are encouraged to participate in various safety initiatives. It is only when employees feel that they are valued and part of creating a safe work environment that you can truly build a strong safety culture.  

4. Communication

Another key area you should focus on is how effective communication is within the organization. How often is information relayed to team members? Do they all receive a generic message or is it specified to their roles? 

Effective communication creates more awareness of health and safety procedures and policies. It also allows workflows to become standardized across the organization, as everyone is following the same process. 

5. Training and Education

Employees must receive the proper health and safety training and education to complete their job tasks correctly. This helps to drive your safety culture, as everyone is aware of potential risks related to doing their job and how to control them.

Evaluate if employees in your organization are given the right training, whether or not it is customized to their job roles, and how you evaluate whether they have understood the requirements.  

6. Incident Reporting and Investigation

Are employees reporting incidents and near-misses? How quickly are incidents investigated? What is the corrective action completion rate? These questions and more, are all ones you should ask yourself to help evaluate your health and safety maturity.  

A strong health and safety performance is the marker of how well employees are protected within the organization. Controlling hazards quickly and efficiently is a key part of incident reporting and investigation.  

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7. Accountability

Team members who feel they are responsible for each other’s safety will participate more in safe behaviors. Assess whether or not employees are truly held accountable for following procedures, what consequences are in place if they do not, and rewards for those who do show a sense of dedication to safety.  

It’s important to note that employees should never be punished or blamed for not following procedures. This will create an unhealthy workplace. Instead, use this as a coaching opportunity and look at the root cause of why this behavior is occurring.  

8. Continuous Improvement

Continuously evolving and improving your health and safety program is fundamental to building a strong safety culture. How often are you assessing safety performance? What metrics are you using to track this? Are you able to measure progress? How are you able to identify strengths and weaknesses within the health and safety program? Assess these elements to develop a strong continuous improvement plan to drive safety performance.  

9. Technology

Technology can help you build a strong safety culture by making everything easily accessible and by placing safety in the palm of your teams’ hands (literally!). Evaluate whether you have a tool that is helping you do this and how well it is working.  

Does it provide transparency into your health and safety program? Is it user-friendly enough to boost employee engagement and participation rates? Does it have a reporting system that allows you to track key metrics and data to make fact-based decisions? A health and safety management system can be a game changer for your organization and can play a key role in a positive safety culture.  

How an EHS Solution Can Help Elevate Safety Culture

Having the right Environment, Health, and Safety (EHS) solution can help strengthen your safety culture, as everything is centralized in one system. Easily pinpoint areas of weakness and strengths to prioritize where to focus. Communicate easily with your teams through one platform, notifying them when corrective actions are needed to mitigate a hazard. With everything in one place, you can also track trends and patterns to make more data-driven decisions.  

Discover more about how the right EHS Solution can help your organization. 


Author Dina Adlouni

Dina is a Content Marketing Manager at EcoOnline. She has been a content writer for eight years and has been writing about health and safety for the past three years. 

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