Vous êtes ici

Safety culture

One important tenet of Safety Management System is the attention to organizational safety culture.

Uttal (1983) defines organizational culture as "the shared values (what is important) and beliefs (how things work) that interact with an organization's structures and control systems to produce behavioral norms (the way we do things around here)." 

On the other  hand, safety culture refers to the extent to which individuals and groups will commit to personal responsibility for safety; act to preserve, enhance and communicate safety concerns; strive to actively learn, adapt and modify (both individual and organizational) behavior based on lessons learned from mistakes; and be rewarded in a manner consistent with these values. Safety culture is commonly viewed as an enduring characteristic of an organization that is reflected in its consistent way of dealing with critical safety issues. 

Four Critical Elements of Safety Culture

 The following are four critical elements of safety culture, these activities would make up an "informed culture" - one in which those who manage and operate the systems have current knowledge about the human. technical, organizational and environmental factors that determine the safety of the system as a whole. 

  • Reporting culture
      • people are encouraged to voice safety concerns, report their errors or near-misses
      • when safety concerns are reported they are analysed and appropriate action is taken
  • Flexible Culture
      • a culture capable of adapting effectively to changing demands
      • ability to switch from bureacratic, centralized mode to a more decentralized professional mode
  • Learning Culture
      • people are encouraged to develop and apply their own skills and knowledge to enhance organizational safety
      • staff are updated on safety issues by management
      • safety reports are fed back to staff so that everyone learns the lessons
  • Just culture
      • people are encouraged, even rewarded, for providing essential safety-related information
      • errors must be understood but wilful violations cannot be tolerated
      • the workforce knows and agrees on what is acceptable and unacceptable

(Image embedded from Coloradofirecamp on 21 Sep 2009)

According to Reason , a Just Culture is, "A way of safety thinking that promotes a questioning attitude, is resistant to complacency, is committed to excellence, and fosters both personal accountability and corporate self-regulation in safety matters."

A Just Culture promotes safety by supporting the fact that humans are vulnerable to errors; errors will always occur; and some errors should not carry with them a personally harsh, punitive, resolution when in fact the system itself might be flawed. However, a clear line must be drawn that differentiates between what is common everyday human error versus flagrant or willful violations that could, and should, be dealt with in a stricter manner.