Words can have a profound effect on safety—particularly when fault or blame are the default setting for safety. Words also greatly affect an SH&E professional’s credibility—especially when something that can’t or won’t be done is promised. These problems lead to a safety culture based on negative management techniques and avoidance, none of which build ownership or engage employees.
So, what can you do to develop a positive safety culture? That was the focus of “Actions Speak Louder Than Words: How to Create a Positive Safety Process.” According to presenter Chris Goulart of RCI Safety, SH&E professionals need to understand the motivations that drive actions; make safety personal; remove cultural barriers and organizational norms that prevent safe work actions; have credibility by reinforcing safe work habits whenever possible; focus on the positive; and coach instead of discipline. “To get employees to own safety, we have to create an environment where they are motivated to work safely,” he said.
It’s also important to emphasize action and performance, not outcomes. “Focus on working toward achievement, not the avoidance of failure.”