Advancing the Safety Culture

One of the WSCC’s 2015-2017 Strategic Priorities is Advancing the Safety Culture, an ongoing goal of, among other things, proactively preventing workplace incidents, working towards education for workers and employers, and strengthening awareness of incidents and safety. The term “safety culture”, though, is not widely understood. The WSCC is working with colleagues nationwide to understand a definition of safety culture, and the values and beliefs that contribute to this culture.

Generally, safety culture can be understood as a shared set of values and beliefs regarding workplace safety and health; however, it is also part of a larger organizational culture, steering an organization through planning, decision-making, and everyday activities. Ideally, safety culture is also more broadly reflected through a collective set of shared values and beliefs in the wider community.

The values that demonstrate a strong safety culture include:

  • The expectation of safety and health in the workplace;
  • People are seen as an organization’s most valuable resource; and
  • Safety and health are equal

The beliefs that correspond with these values are:

  • That workplace injuries and illnesses are preventable;
  • Improvement is driven by leaders; and
  • Everyone contributes to building healthy, safe workplaces.

Within the workplace, we can evaluate safety culture based on how we address health and safety concerns, leadership’s commitment to health and safety, and workplace inclusivity. For example an organizational commitment to continuous learning is also a way to demonstrate safety culture, as well as a workplace environment of trust and respect.

Externally, a strong safety culture exists within the larger community if education and training are prominent throughout institutions like schools, if safety as a norm is a public priority, leaders at all levels demonstrate a commitment to support and invest in occupational health and safety, and laws and standards related to safety are progressive and enforced. Here in the NWT and Nunavut the WSCC is working with our employers and workers to have a strong safety culture in every workplace. Safety is everyone’s responsibility. DG