Safety Culture's Tipping Point

July 05 2015
By: Terry L. Mathis

A CEO asked me what the "secret" was to get employee engagement and form the kind of safety culture his organization desired. The answer is quite simple:

  1. Define the vision, values, beliefs and behaviors you want a member of your safety culture to possess,
  2. Drive those qualities with your training programs, supervision, management communication and other reinforcers in your organization,
  3. Reach a critical mass of employees who possess all or most of these qualities, and
  4. Let the critical mass pass the tipping point where every worker becomes influenced by the norms of the group.

Improving a safety culture takes work up front, but pays back for that work over a long period of time. Even the upfront work is manageable if you take it a step at a time and realize that you only need to change the critical few characteristics and capabilities, not all. A culture with relatively stable turnover rates can perpetuate common practices for several generations of workers with only a little ongoing reinforcement from management and supervision. That is a great ROI in anyone's books.

Terry L. Mathis

Terry Mathis, Founder and retired CEO of ProAct Safety, has served as a consultant and advisor for top organizations the world over. A respected strategist and thought leader, Terry has authored five books, numerous articles, videos and blogs, and is known for his dynamic and engaging presentations. EHS Today has named him one of the '50 People Who Most Influenced EHS' four consecutive times. Business leaders and safety professionals seek Terry's practical insight and unique ability to introduce new perspectives that lead to real change.

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