What is the importance of developing a safety conscious work environment?

Having sewn together the beginnings of a safety-conscious culture, Vorholt helps customers move to the next stage, maintaining it, which requires a little creativity and a lot of coherence. HR participation, he explains, can involve developing a vision, mission statements and strategic plans; providing training, staff development and procedures; and hiring senior management for meaningful safety presentations. Here, Vorholt shares his top 10 tips for recognizing employees and behaviors that inspire a safety-conscious culture in the workplace. The Safety Conscious Work Environment (SCWE) is an environment in which employees feel free to raise safety concerns with management (or a regulator) without fear of retaliation.

SCWE is described as an attribute of safety culture in SECY-04-0111, Recommended Staff Actions Regarding Agency Guidance in the Areas of Safety Conscious Work Environment and Safety Culture, August 30, 2004.He cites an example of a major corporation that has done just that and how amazed he was for the first time when he saw the company's safety awareness at work. Rather, building a culture that inspires people to be aware of safety at work all day, every day, regardless of who is watching or not, is a much better strategy, Vorholt said. The good news, Vorholt says, is that a safety-conscious workplace isn't too difficult or expensive. The frequency of accidents also has a definite and precise relationship with management's safety awareness.

But when the lid is in a nuclear reactor and the hole has developed due to a coolant leak that has not been noticed long ago, there is a huge safety problem in the workplace. The DOE safety culture, the Safety Conscious Work Environment (SCWE) and the organizational culture are highly interdependent with each other; an organization must have all three to succeed. To learn more about how the concepts of safety culture, safety-conscious work environment, and organizational culture work together, watch the DOE National Training Center's Introduction to Safety Culture video. The goal of developing safety awareness within the workforce, experts add, requires continuous reinforcement at all levels, not just for frontline workers.

Certainly, lax attitudes about workplace safety pose greater dangers in the nuclear power industry than in other companies, but no company can afford to ignore efforts to instill safety awareness in its entire workforce. The first step in establishing a culture of safety is hiring safe people, says Kevin Naylor, SPHR, deputy vice president of human resource development for Union Pacific Railroad Co.

Jerald Shiiba
Jerald Shiiba

Professional tv junkie. General zombie lover. Professional pop cultureaholic. Infuriatingly humble music scholar. Freelance travel maven.

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