Identifying Cultural Hazards at Safety+

Safety isn't necessarily a common core value within companies, but with a little expectation management and communication, it could be.

Within every company, there are values that employers want their employees to exemplify. Respect, loyalty, boldness, integrity, trust and passion are just a few. At VPPPA's Safety+ Symposium in New Orleans, La. last week, session speaker Rodney Grieve explained that these values are sometimes not clearly defined, leaving employees and employers wondering where in the world it all went wrong, especially when it comes to the safety of the workers. 

Grieve, a safety leadership speaker from BRANTA Worldwide, told attendees at the symposium that safety isn't necessarily a common core value within companies, but with a little expectation management and communication, it could be. 

To explain his point, Grieve had attendees partner up and curl their fingers around their partner's with their thumbs turned upwards. Attendees immediately started to laugh and begin to pin down their partner's thumb as they realized they were in the classic, "Thumb War" stance. Grieve pointed this out. He hadn't asked anyone to play Thumb War, but they knew exactly what to do. Why? Because it was based on experience.

"Just because you have loyalty and respect listed as a core value with your company, doesn't mean your employees are going to have the same definition of respect and value as you do," Grieve said in his session titled, Identifying Cultural Hazards: Four Clues You Are Out of Balance. "Your employee, based on his own experiences, might take respect and loyalty to mean protecting his buddy at all costs, even if it means he is not being safe on the job."

In a survey, Gallup reported that only 50 percent of employees understand their expectations from their managers. Grieve argued that posting signs and banners reminding employees of safety procedures and rules was not going to help employees understand their safety expectations any better. Only when safety leaders being to effectively and positively communicate their expectations with employees will everyone begin to be on the same page.

"Safety leaders must talk about safety as it relates to their core values," Grieve said. "This then allows employees to hold their leaders accountable cutting down on the issue some company have where employees believe management only does something about safety after someone gets hurt."

Grieve explained that by finding a balance within your communication on safety is the best way to identify safety expectations and the first step in creating a more effective safety culture.

 

About the Author

Sydny Shepard is the Editor of Occupational Health & Safety.

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