Who cares? Who needs a definition of “Safety Culture”? Is there really a separate “Safety Culture”? Do you have a “Productivity Culture”? How about a “Quality Culture”? The main problem with the mentality of trying to establish a safety culture is that it makes safety a disconnected part of the organizational culture. A company/organization has but one culture. Quality, safety, productivity and customer satisfaction should be the four legs of the chair that support your culture. Don’t put safety in a silo!
Organizational culture starts with leadership. It begins at the senior most level of the organization, and for Caterpillar Dealers, that’s the CEO/Dealer Principal. In other organizations it may include a Board of Directors, Board of Reagents, etc. But culture is also determined at every level of the organization and must be surveyed, assessed and observed for reality. Once reality is determined (or at least perceived reality), the organization and its leaders can assess the vast chasm between where you are today and the vision of where you want the organization to be in the future. Set a realistic timeline.
At each level of the organization, specific roles and responsibilities should be clearly defined for safety just as they are for quality, productivity and customer satisfaction. That includes from the CEO on down to the supervisor, field service technician and to the janitor. For each important corporate safety initiative, you need to identify a safety champion among the top managers and task them with driving that initiative. Ownership of safety programs and performance by senior management should be as visible and transparent to the organization as other programs for quality, productivity, customer satisfaction or financial improvement. Accountability can be demonstrated through discussion of safety performance with peers at routine management review meetings and frequent performance appraisals.
Building out an organizational culture is definitely the right approach but make sure it is comprehensive to the organizational goals, philosophy and values. Then you will have the right approach towards making real organizational improvements.
That’s my 2 cents. Keep the change!