News & Insights

7 common barriers to an effective workplace safety culture

Published 16 June 2022

Research shows that a positive workplace safety culture delivers multiple benefits to the business concerned, but achieving this is very much up to business owners and leaders. A good safety culture often reflects senior and operational management commitment to safety through organisational practices for managing risks, an environment that promotes continuous organisational learning and a consistent care and concern for safety, shared across the workplace.

The advantages gained through a positive safety culture include 

  • increased productivity
  • reduction in compensation and insurance costs
  • enhanced employee motivation to observe safety protocols
  • reduced down time due to safety incidents.
     

 

Do you recognise these barriers to change in your business?

The culture of an organisation has a major influence on the health and safety related behaviour of workers. But achieving cultural change can be a challenge. We are creatures of habit and that can make a business and its employees resistant to doing things differently. 

Recognised barriers to an effective workplace safety culture include

  1. putting profit before safety: where productivity comes first and safety is viewed as a cost, not an investment
  2. a culture of fear where incidents are hidden by those trying to avoid reprimands
  3. prevailing corporate culture preventing recognition of risks, leading to adverse safety decisions 
  4. employee non-compliance with standards, rules and procedures, by managers and the workforce
  5. failure of critical safety information to  be relayed to decision-makers and/ or messages are being diluted
  6. false expectations of new hires and contractors that they are highly trained and competent
  7. ignoring lessons learned from incidents and near misses about safety critical practices. 

Overcoming these barriers calls for a top-down approach by senior management that starts with demonstrated leadership in committing to safety standards, which promotes a safety climate in the workplace, laying the groundwork for a practical safety culture with standards and protocols which, as the final step in the process, are adopted by your business’s employees. 
 

How Gallagher can help

This is where the award-winning Gallagher Workplace Risk specialism can help. The team partners with your business to provide assistance with 

  • co-designing behavioural safety programs (face-to face and e-learning)
  • facilitating senior management workshops in leading safety
  • conducting employee safety culture workshops (education and scenario-based, aligned with your safety program)
  • building leadership safety performance indicators into your safety management system and leadership training programs.
     

Interested in reviewing your organisation’s health and safety standards?

The Gallagher Workplace Health & Safety offering encompasses everything from incident management and investigation, safety mentoring and training through to health and wellness programs, hazard and risk profiling or highly configurable online safety management systems.

Find out more by talking to one of the experts on the Gallagher Workplace Risk team.
 

Further reading

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Gallagher provides insurance, risk management and benefits consulting services for clients in response to both known and unknown risk exposures. When providing analysis and recommendations regarding potential insurance coverage, potential claims and/or operational strategy in response to national emergencies (including health crises), we do so from an insurance and/or risk management perspective.
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