“Safety management” and “safety culture” as phrases are so close linguistically that they are likely used interchangeably by most. But these terms each serve specific purposes. Understanding where the nuances lie between what makes up safety management and what falls under safety culture will help strengthen both processes for businesses.
Let’s start by looking at how these processes become so inextricably linked. Think of safety management as the foundation providing a strong, stable base to support the safety culture. The safety culture then reevaluates, buttresses, and repairs the foundation of safety management.
Both safety management and safety culture function with the intention of mitigating injuries and promoting safe working habits. Both safety management and safety culture also utilize a commitment to continuous improvement to make workplaces more safe. How each process sets out to achieve these goals varies slightly.
Safety management provides the tools for understanding and engaging in safe working practices. Safety management defines what hazards exist in the workplace and establishes processes to follow to avoid those hazards. The success of safety management tools in mitigating risk and maximizing safe work relies on the buy-in from upper management and organizational decision makers.
Two of the most prominent tools of safety management are learning and listening. Learning refers to the professional workshops and education most people associate with safety. Regularly scheduled professional safety education provides fundamental techniques to employees around safety topics. Keeping employees engaged and up-to-date on the latest safety techniques via professional safety classes is critical to the success of safety management goals.
Listening is the feedback loop created to ensure techniques from professional workshops and education are being applied correctly. Creating open channels of communication between supervisors and employees allows supervisors to collect necessary safety data and form actionable plans to address concerns from the feedback received. This is how safety management establishes a cycle of continuous improvement.
Safety culture, or a culture of safety, determines how the tools of safety management are best implemented. A safety culture is also responsible for evaluating how effective current safety management processes are — with the establishment of a safety leadership team — and for driving employee engagement with safety management processes.
A well-functioning safety culture encourages employees to engage in safe working habits and bring to light safety innovations or concerns that can be addressed by the safety leadership team. A culture of safety empowers employees by making them feel seen, heard, and human. Employees that feel empowered are more likely to work harder, be more efficient, and encourage their peers to work safely.
A safety culture and safety management are not mutually exclusive — and organizations should not feel the need to choose one at the expense of the other. Both sets of processes work best when they operate synergistically to create one whole safety program. Committing to strong safety management overseen by a trusted safety culture will lead to reduced workplace injuries, more efficient workflows, and a more loyal employee base. Empower a culture of safety with a sound safety management system and become an industry leader in safety.
Optimum Safety Management provides the information and services to help companies develop safety leaders and improve overall safety performance. For more information on how Optimum Safety Management can assist with your businesses’ safety needs, contact an expert today, or reach out via phone at 630-759-9908.