Your business must promote a mindset of health and safety. This safeguards your employees from harm, reduces absences, lowers the expenses associated with injuries and illnesses, and keeps you competitive, especially in an oversaturated market.

Of course, those in authority roles should primarily be responsible for setting the tone for health and safety in the workplace. But it’s also critical that all employees promote and support safety measures.

The good news is this article highlights some indications of a poor safety culture and outlines some of the best ways to improve and ensure a safe working environment. Also, we focus primarily on the most compelling arguments in favor of fostering a positive safety mindset.

Understanding Safety Culture

Safety culture refers to the individuals’ or organizations’ shared perceptions, beliefs, attitudes, and competence, or patterns towards the effectiveness of a company’s health and safety management systems.

In other words, “a positive safety culture” describes how people within a company view and prioritize safety at work. Leaders and staff alike should share a dedication to making their workplaces safer for their colleagues, assets, and processes.

It’s the company’s outlook on health and safety and the dedication of every worker toward safety management systems.

Types of Safety Culture

You may encounter various cultures regarding safety. It’s helpful to know what category your company falls into regarding safety mindset by raising employees’ consciousness about the company’s safety culture so that you initiate positive changes that will ultimately benefit your company.

Safety cultures may be categorized as follows:

  • Negative culture
  • Neutral culture
  • Positive culture

Image alt text|: Positive safety culture for safer working environment.

Author credits: By Tony Webster from Portland, Oregon, United States, CC BY 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Negative/Inactive Culture

Negative safety cultures tend to view health and safety as bureaucracy, with the primary purpose being to satisfy regulators and tick off boxes. Team members and management alike have a negative impression of health and safety procedures and rarely take action to change the situation.

When an organization has a poor safety culture, they are more likely to disobey safety policies and disregard safety cautions. Here, employees use safety measures just to appease authorities but rarely adhere to them.

Neutral/Reactive Culture

A safety culture that is neither proactive nor reactive to health and safety issues neither promotes nor challenges safety-related ideas.

There is a lack of concern for possible risk in this setting, though corrective measures will be taken only if a workplace crisis happens. Staff members typically adhere to the policy for professionalism rather than a sincere interest in improving safety.

Positive/Protective Culture

A well-established safety culture promotes an attitude of prevention regarding hazards. Everyone on the team cares deeply about keeping themselves and others secure. They do so freely to improve site safety, lower risk, and reduce the frequency of safety incidents.

If this is the safety mindset at your company, those who disregard health and safety regulations will be reported and reprimanded.

Cultures of positivity and protection are preferable. This is because fostering a positive atmosphere makes for happier workers and helps keep everyone safer. While problems still exist but are much less severe in a positive safety mindset than in neutral or negative cultures.

Positive safety cultures share many characteristics.

  • Consensus values
  • Participation on every level
  • Constant education for safety
  • Transparency
  • Emphasizing preventative measures rather than emergency ones

Both negative and neutral norms can raise the stakes for a company and lead to adverse outcomes such as:

  • You can ruin your provider image and your chances of getting new customers.
  • Cause employees to sustain injuries at work, which can increase their liability, cause absenteeism, and lower morale.

How to Tell You Have a Negative Safety Culture

Depending on the field, there are various methods for gauging the prevalence of a mindset of safety. Cultures of security in organizations can be gleaned from the following:

  • Employee participation and engagement
  • Leadership’s dedication to risk reduction
  • Stringent safety report filing

Here are some signs of poor safety culture:

Poor Reporting of Incidents: Do you find that many mishaps in your job go unreported? Are incidents investigation performed only if a person sustains a life-threatening injury? The business culture will suffer if you prioritize company and profit security over worker safety.

Disconnection or lack of communication: Is there a problem with management not informing workers about safety concerns? When employees voice safety concerns, do supervisors typically tell them to shut up?

If upper-level management doesn’t prioritize safety in the workplace, lines of communication within the business could become strained. Those in authority must set a good standard regarding health and safety.

Putting profit over precaution: Is wealth your only motive, even if it compromises worker safety?

You aren’t building a positive culture if you put profit before everything else and treat health and safety as an expense. Financial savings can be realized in the long run when a positive attitude is fostered.

Blame-game: Does your business have a habit of laying blame for injuries and illnesses on particular employees? Is dealing with them just something you have to do?

Some managers may reprimand the worker and get back to work as soon as possible to prevent an output delay rather than conduct a thorough investigation. A harmful safety culture may be fostered if blame for incidents is placed solely on those directly engaged.

Is There a Safe Culture at Your Company?

Most businesses also claim to follow health and safety guidelines. To an employee, however, that is far from adequate. Workers are aware of when their bosses merely follow the rules because they must and if they take a proactive stance toward worker safety, going above and beyond what is required by law.

When top executives acknowledge safety’s importance and promote it as vital to the company’s future, the focus shifts from regulations to culture.

These leaders can embed safety culture into every step of the workplace, giving everyone a consistent set of standards to follow. Thanks to this proactive assistance, employees feel more in control, have less stress, and can thrive in their jobs.

How to Create and Sustain a Positive Workplace Culture

Creating a secure workplace isn’t something you can just do once and then leave alone. It must be proactively ingrained in the culture of a company. However, it would help if you strived to create a safety management system emphasizing preventative measures over emergency ones.

To do that, you must consider two primary factors: creating and sustaining the safety culture. So, how do you develop an influential safety culture.

Creating a Secure Work Environment

Building a welcoming and secure work environment can take some time, but it need not be complex. You can model your safety culture after successful businesses by learning from their methods. We’ve laid out some good ways to establish a safety mindset.

Here’s the step to follow:

Conduct current evaluations: Finding out where you are in terms of security can be done through data audits and evaluations. An industry-specific risk assessment is crucial in gauging the severity of potential dangers. However, asking your staff is one of the best methods to measure the safety of your workplace.

Plan: The moment to prepare is before an emergency occurs, not after. How can you ensure that everyone in the workplace follows the rules, makes efforts to improve the workplace, and gets ready for emergencies?

Include workers in the organizing process, and think about how you’ll get the word out to everyone, no matter where they might be. Maintaining readiness is much simpler with a consistent strategy.

Set manageable targets or goals: Setting quantifiable targets will allow you to monitor your progress. Ensure your objectives have measurable outcomes, such as prompt accident reporting or regular safety training.

Also, you should poll workers and managers to find out what they value most. This will help you identify expected safety results, especially those that matter to your staff.

Get support from within the company: Since they are working on the front lines, your workers probably already understand the significance of safety. But safety must be a driving factor, starting at the top. To win over upper management, you may need to explain why safety is vital to the company’s bottom line and its ability to bounce back from setbacks.

Sustaining Your Safety Culture

Once you have created guidelines for a safe working environment, it’s now time to ensure that your organization continues to abide by them. Here’s what you can do:

Ensure proper Communication

It may take time and consistent dialogue between employees and management for a company’s safety culture to become deeply ingrained. Send a message to your staff that their safety is a top priority by involving them in the planning process. Even better, you can develop efficient channels of contact in the event of an emergency, such as implementing emergency communication systems.

Provide employee training

Studies show that employee safety training increases staff’s likelihood of being informed and prepared to act during workplace crises.

How best can you create employee safety training? Simply ensure you:

  • Get Down To The Basics

To ensure the protection of your employees, you should first review the requirements set forth by OSHA. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has released a list of regulations that all businesses in the United States must follow. Some of them include the following:

  • Making a strategy to avoid fires
  • Training employees and staff on the hazardous chemical management
  • Meeting the standards set by OSHA for working exits
  • Developing an emergency action plan to guide workers during a crisis

The OSHA regulations cover many grounds, but they’re minimum requirements for any business. Therefore, ensure your safety training program incorporates elements of OSHA’s guidelines and is tailored to your business’s needs.

  • Locate Your Particular Risks on the Job

Conducting a work hazard analysis is the next step in developing a training program for employee safety in your company. Risk evaluation is among the emergency safety tools that can break down any task into its parts.

Therefore, consider if the work requires the employee to stand, sit, kneel, crouch, crawl, or reach above, below, behind, or to the side. Then think about how these actions could cause damage. Finally, you should compile a summary of preventative measures or best practices.

  • Train your staff

Once you discover your workplace risk specifics, it’s time to educate yourself on how to deal with them. Before beginning any exercise, it is important to establish goals. Here is a rundown of the desired results of your safety instruction program for your staff.

Be sure to include: hazard identification strategies, first aid and CPR techniques, how to respond to emergencies, and deal with various everyday occurrences like accidents and bad weather at work. Improve your readiness for any crisis by holding training and conducting tabletop exercises.

Monitor Your Safety Progress

Constantly evaluating your organization’s strengths and flaws is essential to sustaining a positive safety culture.

At the very least, annual and, ideally, biannual safety culture assessments are required. Therefore, evaluate your safety program by checking staff surveys, audits, and complex data like absenteeism or incident rates.

Tracking leading indicators is more essential to safety culture champions than watching lagging indicators like incident reporting rates. The speed with which safety risks are addressed and the number of employees who have completed safety training are leading indicators of a healthy safety culture.

Think Through the Repercussions

Consequences beyond line-manager punishment exist for those who disregard health and safety regulations. Misconduct on the job can result in severe harm or even fatality. Your team needs to be aware of the dangers they and their coworkers face if you want to foster a mindset of safety in the workplace.

It is easier to get people invested in avoiding accidents in the workplace if they have the information they need and can see the potential consequences of their actions. 

Recognize and Honor a Culture of Safety

Disciplining employees who violate safety policies is standard procedure. This is a vital component of procedure upkeep, but it is not the only option. Rewarding policy-abiding behavior is just as effective as punishing rule-breakers. A positive safety culture can be fostered by setting safety objectives and rewarding teams for achieving them.

Put security first

If you want to create a safety culture that is both positive and successful, you need to make sure that everyone follows a straightforward rule: safety is priority number one. Safety is more important than making money, meeting goals, or following management orders.

If safety is a top concern for the company and is ingrained in its values, then that mentality will permeate the organization and help foster a safety culture.

Image alt text: Illustration on putting workplace safety first.

Author credits: By Work Projects Administration Poster Collection, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Why You Should Strive for a Positive Safety Culture

When incorporating safety into an organization, all employees, from the CEO down to the lowest-wage worker, must adopt a new way of thinking and acting. There are many gains from learning and using strategies that encourage preventative measures to lessen negative outcomes. Amongst them include:

Fewer Employee Absences and Turnover

The mood, output, and bottom line can all take a hit when accidents and injuries occur. Turnover is boosted as a result. Employees who have been hurt on the job often decide not to return, mainly if they believe management does not value safety.

A dedication to safety decreases expenses and employee turnover while boosting employee loyalty and faith in management.

Ensures Reduced Health Care and Insurance Costs

Insurance claims, mandatory time off, and decreased output result from accidents. However, you can effectively manage all these stresses that cut into profits by ensuring you implement positive safety culture.

Insurance rates can be reduced if there are fewer claims due to mishaps. Discounts and refunds are given to those with a proven track record. This benefits both employers and employees. For instance, there is a decrease in absenteeism and healthcare costs for workers. Without constantly finding and teaching new staff, managers are free to focus entirely on the projects themselves.

Better Possibilities for Hiring

How people view your organization’s commitment to safety is essential. Your impressive safety record and a low number of reported incidents will attract prospective employees and vendors. When potential employees can detect and appreciate your self-assurance, they are more likely to apply.

Also customers and top-tier workers will be drawn to your business because of its stellar safety record. The importance of a robust safety culture cannot be overstated. So, everyone strives to improve their performance.

Increases Efficiency and Motivation

Even if you have a stellar track record, eradicating risk is impossible. However, if accidents are reduced, a safety culture is established, and its advantages are gradually communicated to all levels of the organization.

Staff members report lower stress levels, increased self-esteem, and greater confidence in their managers. Improved mood and output are the inevitable results.


Providing a secure workplace is the top priority for any employer, and fostering a strong safety culture can help you achieve this goal. Besides, employees prefer to work for companies that put their welfare first. Therefore, creating a safety culture is one of the best ways to build confidence with your staff so they will see that you care about them.

The ability to effectively communicate is crucial when developing a mindset of safety. Help your workers feel safe on the job by sharing safety information in a timely and clear way. Building a company culture that cares about its most valuable commodity, its people is possible when security and open lines of communication are prioritized. Also, ensure you provide adequate safety training to your employees. Frequently show them how to identify hazards in their workplaces and how to respond to them. Most importantly, ensure they can help each during a crisis by learning how to provide basic first aid skills.