Establishing a Better Safety Culture for Employees

What does it take for a company to lead in safety culture?  At a seminar titled “Creating a World Class Safety Culture” at the Grainger Show held earlier this week, Dr. W.E. Scott, Ph.D., PE, a consulting services manager at the National Safety Council, provided tips that managers can follow to establish a safer, more effective work environment.

Safety was at the center of the Grainger show. Credit: Beth Goodbaum

Safety was at the center of the Grainger Show.
Credit: Beth Goodbaum

“There is no such thing as an organization without a safety culture,” Dr. Scott said, addressing a large industry audience. “The difference is…some companies have more prominent safety cultures than others.”

He defined “safety culture” as a “dynamic environment in which the collective positive and, or negative values, attitudes, knowledge, or behavior regarding safety are both defined and exhibited.”

Dr. Scott, with over 30 years of experience in the engineering, biomedical, environmental, and occupational safety and health fields, called on management to set higher standards for their workforce. He emphasized that business leaders should strive for a proactive safety culture and aim for preventative strategies rather than post-incident solutions.

He also highlighted a challenge that can detract from better safety measures: “The reality is some managers do not lead very well.” Scott outlined four critical requirements to develop a safety culture.

1) Demonstrate commitment and leadership. Managers can effectively take action by communicating a vision, sharing safety principles, and creating a “We care about safety” philosophy.


2) Get employees involved. Have employees participate in planning, problem solving, and decision making processes relating to their jobs. Dr. Scott said that no idea or suggestion should be ignored.


3) Enact safety measurement. This determines whether the organization’s safety efforts are effective through assessing safety activities and procedures. Managers should make a consistent measurement plan, define measurements, and maintain a method and system for collecting data.


4) Aim for continuous improvement. Dr. Scott points to the National Safety Council’s “Journal to Safety Excellence,” a data-centric mitigation process which helps employees integrate safety improvement procedures. This involves key phases, including determining gaps and setting goals, developing improvement plans, implementing plans, capturing the lessons learned, measuring, and then re-measuring the plans.

Safety was one of the trending workplace topics at the Grainger Show. Accessible on the company website, Grainger provides videos and training mannequins to help keep employees safe. Additionally, it offers “Online Safety Manager,” an online tool that helps managers employ safety measures more cost effectively.  To see the full safety presentation, click here.



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