Improving health & safety culture and behaviours in the workplace

Tick the box or make a change?

Why is effective safety, health and wellbeing culture important in your workplace?

It is well researched that healthy workplaces deliver higher productivity, reduce organisational costs and risk to employees, improve workplace participation and increase social inclusion, and improve wellbeing and mental health of employees. A healthy workplace also builds good morale and happier staff, who are motivated and feel valued.

While many employers adopt basic health and injury prevention programs (for example health presentations or manual handling training), few look at a broader strategy of changing the health and safety CULTURE of the workgroup.

It’s smart and economical to have effective safety, health and wellbeing strategies implemented in the workplace. This will provide the greatest return on any investment in health and wellness programs, training or consultancy services.

So, what is health and safety culture in the workplace?

It is an organisational atmosphere that understands and accepts health & safety as a high priority. It encompasses how people think and act toward safety. Ultimately the culture needs to be driven from the top…with leaders being the main influence on workplace culture and employee behaviours and attitudes.

There are a few strategies to implement for effective workplace culture on health & safety:

1. Leadership drive and support:
Change starts at the top and commitment from all owners and leaders is essential for success. Lead by example and practice what you preach. Strategies can include: creating a case for improvement, appointing champions and responsibilities amongst leaders, and educating front-line managers.

2. Identify needs of the organisation:
Understand where you are and how you can improve. This can include feedback from staff, meetings and forums, human resource data, health assessments, safety statistics, and reviewing current policies and procedures.

3. Planning and development:
Identify and prioritise the business needs and potential changes. What programs are going to generate the most interest within the workgroup, and have the largest impact.

4. Monitor, review, reflect & improve:
Track and measure your initiatives, review successes and planning for improvements. How have the programs been received? What has been the short-term impact, and what long-term results have been generated?

In summary, holistic Health and Injury Prevention programs that target not only the safety of the workplace but also the physical health and mental health of the individual, are the most likely to have the greatest gains in cultural change. Having the message repeated consistently throughout the business, from all levels of management, and across different methods of delivery will affect the size of the impact.

For more information on strategies to improve the health and safety culture of your business, view the research and resources available at Safe Work Australia, Commerce WA, and Beyond Blue.

How can you start making a change in your work culture? WFR’s Injury Prevention, Health and Wellness programs provide our client partners with a broad scope of opportunity to develop an outcome-focused strategy.