Why Reporting is the Foundation to Building a Strong Safety Culture

Takeaway:  We are performance driven. Progress motivates us. When we can’t see it, we lose motivation. Therefore, scoreboards are necessary at sporting events. Remove the scoreboard, and you no longer have a game, you only have practice. Safety is no different.


We need to set safety goals and have knowledge of how we are doing regarding them. Once safety goals are set, we need timely, accurate reporting that will drive behavior. We need up-to-date information about all aspects of safety.

Employees know that management tracks what is important to them. When attention is given to tracking safety, they know safety is valued and so are they.

Safety Culture

Culture can be defined as the values, beliefs, and behaviours of a group. This includes work culture. What is important to your work culture? What do employees’ actions reflect? Is safety seen as important?

Safety work cultures are never created by accident. (no pun intended)

The problem with safety is it requires time and energy. If workers do not see management caring about employee safety, no time and energy will be given to safety. Safety work cultures must be established with attention and effort.

Remember, we are all performance driven. When employees start their workday, they are thinking about the task at hand, what they need to get done; what they are being paid for. If they think about safety at all, it is typically a small percentage of their time. Safety must be infused into everything we do at work. It must simmer in our minds as a way of working.

Lockout Tagout (LOTO), chalking tires, putting on PPE, all these require time and attention. If safety is not valued as part of the culture, they may be overlooked.

Management Commitment

Management needs to make a commitment to employee safety. This is always step one.

We have to establish that when it comes to performance vs. safety dilemmas, safety must win out. This is a serious commitment that some companies refuse to make. No safety culture can be created without putting employees first. I have seen several safety cultures created and all of them began with this commitment.

Safety Management System

Management needs to establish a robust safety management system. This means tracking and reporting all aspects of employee health and safety. Employees need safety scoreboards.

In 2008 I worked as the safety officer for a large factory as part of a global company. Our factory had one of the worst safety records in the company. In 2008, I could walk up to any employee and ask about our safety goals, injury records, etc. and the employees hand no knowledge. We did a poor job of promoting safety. We had no safety culture.

By 2010 we had made a full turn around. We received a global safety award from our company. In 2009, we had reduced OSHA recordable accidents by 50% and Lost Time Accidents by 75%. I could walk up to any employee and ask them:

  • What are our safety goals for this year?
  • Where are we today regarding those goals?
  • What is our #1 accident type?
  • What is most important in our factory? (Safety!)

…and each employee knew the answers.

We had established a safety culture.


Reporting is the Foundation

Recording and reporting reflects urgency and importance. If safety is the most important aspect of the work culture, we need data to support and drive effort.

To meet safety needs and compliance with regulatory agencies, employers need to track:

  • Near misses
  • Injuries (from minor to severe)
  • Incidents regarding EHS

Employers also need records showing:

  • Regular hazard assessments and control measures
  • Employee safety training
  • Established safety programs for the work environment such as (LOTO, Bloodborne pathogens, Confined space, Forklift safety, Respirator programs, etc.
  • Proof of safety rule compliance

Data that will reflect a strong safety management system may also include:

  • Monitoring all injury types for trends and control measures to improve
  • Safety improvement goals & targets
  • Good record keeping of accident & incident investigations
  • Quick access to all safety records and data (maintaining document control and privacy)
  • Proof engineering tools are being used if needed for projects and product design. (Fault tree analysis and Potential Problem Analysis, etc.)

Moreover, employers must show they have compliance and are up to date with any changes in regulations that affect them and their employees.

Tracking and reporting becomes the foundation of our work safety culture. Since we are performance driven, we need to have goals and know where we are regarding them. When an incident occurs, the investigation, control measure, and recording/reporting must be done in a timely manner. If not, safety can be viewed as not important.


Go Mobile

If you are getting a little overwhelmed, take heart. As our world becomes more complex, technology comes to our aid. More and more companies are switching to mobile devices to handle most of the heavy lifting when it comes to EHS management. Mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets have achieved a level of use and acceptance that computers never did.

Switching from paper to mobile devices and apps can make much of the recording, reporting, and analysis much easier. Electronic forms can be created with drop down menus and controls already in place. Making sure all needed information is captured and captured correctly.

Workflow routing can be set for different documents along with alerts, making sure those that need the information are receiving it in a timely manner. All the while inscriptions protects security.

Databases can be automatically populated for turning data into usable information that can be used to drive improvements.

Forms can be easily created or updated to ensure compliance as needed.

The best aspect of mobile use is that much of the time-consuming work related with paper and manual data entry goes away. This makes for faster response and reporting.


Celebrate your Safety Wins

One last note; celebrate your safety success. No celebration means “nothing significant occurred”. We celebrate important accomplishments. Smart managers look for reasons to celebrate worker successes. Safety should always be recognized as important and worthy of recognition.
How robust is your safety work culture? Do you employees know and understand EHS goals and targets? Do they know the status of these and where to find this information? Do you have safety scoreboards? Do you celebrate safety success?

Recording and reporting is the heart of establishing and maintaining a work safety culture. We are performance driven. Provide your employees with the information they need to stay safe.

We want employees to perform well in all company goals, including safety.

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