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Barriers to Positive Safety Culture | Workplace Safety HSE

Barriers to Positive Safety Culture | Workplace Safety

Barriers to Positive Safety Culture | Workplace Safety

The safety culture of an organization depends on how each person thinks and feels about health and safety and how it translates into their behaviour.
It is the result of the mentality, beliefs, skills, perceptions and patterns of behaviour shared in the organization that determines management's commitment to health and safety management.
An organization can have a positive or negative safety culture.

What is meant by a positive safety culture?

An organization with a positive safety culture can be said, where most workers think and feel that health and safety is important, and all of them work and behave safely because they understand the importance of safety.
There is a robust policy and clear leadership from management and it goes through the whole organization from top to bottom.
Managers reflect on the health and safety implications of their decisions and workers share the same opinion and work safely.
People who do not behave safely are a minority and are likely to leave because they do not feel in their place or risk being dismissed for working in a dangerous way.

Barriers to a Positive Safety Culture

There are many barriers to developing a positive safety culture in the workplace:
Barriers to a Positive Safety Culture – Complexity
Solving specific health and safety issues can be complex in the workplace, as it involves the coordination of many people who carry out several different activities at the same time and requires in-depth knowledge and experience of the possible risks and consequences.
Barriers to a Positive Safety Culture - Conflict requests
Conflicts of interest between the objectives of the operation to obtain profits and, at the same time, guarantee the health and safety of people by respecting different types of standards / laws, as well as the law of protection of the 'environment.
Barriers to a Positive Safety Culture - Behavioural problems
Sometimes people do not behave ideally and to maintain the level of health and safety, the worker must perform his work ideally. Sometimes they deliberately do something wrong and, therefore, health and safety standards are affected by the behaviour of workers.
Simple things like slips, trips and falls are the most common types of workplace injuries. These incidents often occur due to the lack of adequate safety measures.
Many barriers in the workplace arise from easily avoidable situations, often because people do not take their jobs seriously. Peoples using shortcut to show their work performance to their supervisors by compromising safety.
One of the biggest barriers to workplace safety is dealing with lethargic associates or employees. Workers often do not take their responsibilities seriously, so they take shortcuts that lead to accidents, injuries or safety risks. Taking shortcuts when working near dangerous machinery or deadly chemicals is irresponsible and can quickly result in a safety hazard.
Barriers to a Positive Safety Culture - Ineffective safety communication & Lack of knowledge
Organizations develop their HSE rules, regulations, procedures and working practices as part of the company's Safety Management System. Most organizations do not implement their safety management system due to the lack of safety communication. Unless these safety systems do not communicate well with workers, work activities cannot be performed safely and have therefore resulted in injury. If workers do not know the safe work method, they cannot do the work safely. Eg. Several times peoples not laying down the portable/ temporary cables properly and thus creating trip hazard. OSHA requires that extension cords be used only temporarily and when used for weeks or months they are not considered temporary. Extension cords may also be subject to traffic abuse if they are crushed by vehicles or get damaged by mechanical impact or feet, which can damage the insulation and create a risk of electric shock. Similarly, while floor cleaning work, cleaners may not put caution boards and try to finish the work quickly by ignoring the slip hazard. All above information must be communicated to workers so that their competency can be enhanced to develop positive safety culture.
Barriers to a Positive Safety Culture – Substandard past experience:
The experience can create a positive or negative state of mind. People compare things with their past experience and try to adopt the simplest way of doing their work. People's past experience affects their minds, if they have good experience and have done their assigned work safely, then in the new job, they adopt the same methods and do any job safely. But if they haven't worked safely in the past due to a lack of a good safety culture in business, they also want to bring the same culture to this new business. Sometime overconfidence may prohibit workers from taking additional safety precautions, which may cause an accident. It is good to be confident, but when it comes to safety in the workplace, it is also good to be too cautious, prepared and informed about safety in the workplace. Always consider what could happen. Negligence can lead to incorrect procedures, methods or tools.
Barriers to a Positive Safety Culture – Lack of leadership and commitments
Invisible leadership from management, not demonstrating management's commitment to health and safety means that management is seriously discussing the issue of safety in the conference room but does not demonstrate the reality on the ground. This is the biggest obstacle to improving an organization's safety culture. Lower priority to health and safety than other business issues, frequent changes in organization or poorly communicated changes make uncertainty. When a leader in the workplace sets the standard for maintaining a good clean, it sets the bar and sets a good example for everyone. Poor maintenance or lack of maintenance can lead to blocked emergency exits and corridors, which would be very problematic in an emergency and this becomes one of the barriers to develop positive safety culture in workplace. Having a good cleaning in the workplace is a good habit to maintain, which will encourage workers to follow OSHA standards. Naturally, we feel more motivated when we work in a well-maintained environment and a poorly maintained area presents safety risks. Laying products in layers on racks that do not leave enough space between the product and a fire extinguisher is a safety violation and should never occur.
Barriers to a Positive Safety Culture – ineffective safety incident reporting system
All unwanted incidents must be reported to properly investigate in order to find out the root causes of the failure and decide the corrective actions. This is necessary to avoid recurrences. But if there is no robust system for reporting incidences, including near misses, workers do not report it and hazards cannot be dealt with or can remain hidden, which can lead to a serious accident. Leaks that are not fixed properly and standing water that is not cleaned can cause slips and falls, which cannot only cause serious injury, but also lead to legal action for a business if the victim decides to continue and this becomes one of the barriers to develop positive safety culture in workplace.
Before leaving the work, area ensure housekeeping, good cleaning practice is to clean and check everything. Do not wait for a sanitation team or other colleague to clean it for you. Cleaning/ housekeeping is one of the parts of permit to work system, and unless and until you do not clean the work area before leave, permit must not be closed by issuing authority. This little practice can prevent injuries and deaths in the workplace. If a congestion or spill requires specialized training to clean up, employees should know how to notify their supervisor immediately. Lack of 5 S workplace management system may become one of the barriers to develop positive safety culture in workplace.
Barriers to a Positive Safety Culture – Lack of participation and consultation of workers
Risk assessment and the decision to control hazards are very important processes in any organization to do the job safely. But if workers do not participate and are not even communicated, they may not know what safety measures they should take while carrying out the work. Some organizations do not consult their workers during the decision-making process, which can lead to ergonomic problems in the workplace. By having all the desired information before starting a task and asking questions that are not clear, the task is likely to be completed correctly the first time, which will decreases chances of causing a major incidents. Careless in starting a task in workplace without having adequate information about risk and controls may endanger to all workmen.
Barriers to a Positive Safety Culture – Workers with poor health and safety education
The lack of organization of training, awareness and skills development modules in the organization cannot implement a positive safety culture. If people are not aware of safety procedures, work instructions, etc., they can ignore safety procedures, and this is one of the most dangerous things that can lead to serious accidents. Instead of not understanding the procedures, or having a safety risk due to an accident, total negligence is a definite danger to workers and their colleagues.
Oftentimes, people just don't realize how dangerous it is to ignore safety rules. Generally, job supervisor is conducting daily toolbox talk in morning before start of any work. But sometime some workman not taking the things seriously and also influencing other to breach the safety rule, disciplinary action should be taken against such workmen. All supervisors must explain the importance of safety procedures to all workers in workplace.
One of the biggest barriers to workplace safety is being mentally distracted by something. Sometimes external associated/ social influence can negatively affect the workers feeling at work. Workers cannot let the distractions of their personal lives affect their performance at work. A troubled mind can be dangerous at work.
Unplanned job, lack of communication, ignorance in risk assessment and failure to prepare for projects and tasks can result in danger. Job safety analysis is an effective method for discovering the best way to work safely and efficiently. Sometime JSA prepared by only supervisors with involving workers and even nor communicating to involved peoples may cause serious incidents. There are good and bad ways to do everything in the workplace. The right forms guarantee safety and prudence. Do not prepare for failure.
There are many barriers to workplace safety. Lethargy in health and safety is unacceptable and lethargic workers may become a hazard to others. Do not be a threat to the people around you and encourage those around you to follow their example by being aware of everything.

Techniques for developing a positive safety culture in the workplace.

Concept of positive safety culture in workplace
Concept of positive safety culture in workplace

We have already discussed the true meaning of the culture of positive safety and it is the result of the mentality, beliefs, skills, perceptions and patterns of behaviour shared in the organization that determines the commitment of the leadership towards health and safety management. By ensuring below things, we can develop a positive safety culture in workplace.
  • Empowerment
  • Participation and consultation: involving people / workers in HIRA, JSA, QCG, etc.
  • Visible leadership and clear management commitment: involve senior management in workshop safety communication.
  • Improve training, skills and knowledge: adequate training at the right time, for example, HSE initiation, emergency response plan, etc.
  • Communication of safety information.
  • Talk about the toolbox daily before starting any work
  • The image / poster / visual aid is the best way to communicate the desired message because there are no language barriers.
  • Safety signs must be posted in conspicuous places to warn or alert workers.
  • E-mail / newsletter in local languages, bulletin board display, etc.
  • Hold periodic meetings to share HSE information
  • Organize the training with video aids
  • Organized weekly / monthly motivation programs to reward with small tokens and communicate the desired messages.
  • Perform routine inspections and advice on safe work procedures on site.
  • Share incident / accident case studies
  • Develop worker manual and distribute it during HSE induction
  • Appropriate disciplinary measures such as the implementation of the disciplinary procedure, drug policy, travel policy, etc.
  • Organize a motivation program

Techniques to change employee's safety behaviour

The behaviour of each worker is of crucial importance for the management of the health and safety of any organization. If a worker behaves in an ideal and safe way, but not in another, and this dangerous behaviour can endanger himself and others.
It is a fact that most accidents at work are caused by dangerous acts, that is, the dangerous behaviour of a worker. We cannot blame the worker and conclude as negligence, but we must identify the underlying causes, take corrective action and try to understand how "human factors" influence work practices.
There are three main important factors that influence the safety behavior of a worker:
Individual factor:
Linked to personal characteristics (attitude, competence, motivation, perception, etc.).
Attitude, that is, the point of view or the way of seeing the person; How they think and feel about it. A good attitude should be encouraged, and a bad attitude should be changed.
It seems very difficult to change individual attitudes, but this can be done using different methods, such as: training and education, high impact intervention, application, participation and consultation, etc.
Job Factor:
Linked to the task they perform.
Ergonomic design can affect workers comfortably to complete the task.
Workload, that is, the amount of work, the pace of work, deadlines and the variety of work.
Work environment, that is, working conditions such as space, lighting, noise, temperature, humidity, etc.
Screens and controls, that is, designed screens, marking, coding, capacity, etc. visual management
Procedures, that is, the quality of the procedures, revised / obsolete, recoverability, complexity, etc., the procedures must be precise, concise, in colloquial language.
Organizational Factor:
Linked to the characteristics of the organization for which they work.
  • Organizational Safety Culture
  • Safety policies and procedures.
  • Safety commitment and management leadership
  • Supervision Levels
  • Peer group pressure.

Consultation and involvement of workers in the management of health and safety issues.
Communication to transmit messages and information about health and safety to staff and validate the understanding of these messages.
Resources, that is, availability of safe equipment, PPE, safety training based on gap analysis, etc.
Work models, that is, time shift model, etc.

Techniques to improve employee's perception of hazards and risks.

We can define perception as the way in which a person interprets the information detected by their senses (touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste).
Certain hazards, namely CO in the workplace, cannot be detected by the human senses, since this gas is colourless, odourless and tasteless but deadly in relatively low concentrations, so the risk associated with these hazards does not It will not be perceived. Similarly, a person with visual impairment may not be able to see the risks of traveling, a colour-blind worker may not be able to correctly distinguish between red and green, PPE, such as hearing protection, reduces sharpness. gloves reduce hearing sensitivity, loud noise in the workplace also reduces a person's ability to listen well, which can cause risks to themselves and others.
However, in addition to the problem of "sensory impairment," a person's brain can interpret the information sent by the senses differently. A person whose senses are fully functioning can still make mistakes in the way he interprets sensory information. There may also be other factors that can confuse a person's perception. Previous experiences, Drugs and alcohol, Diseases, Stress, Fatigue, Training and education, etc.

Techniques to improve employee's attitute.

Investigate and / or collect information with personal discussions, try to understand the problems and, therefore, plan corrective actions as follows:
Conduct safety awareness campaigns using posters, toolbox discussions, safety workshop meetings, etc.
Increase awareness of the danger and its consequences.
Provide gas detectors with alarm devices.
Highlight hazards by displaying safety signs, such as hearing protection, danger warning signs, warning signs, barrier tapes, etc.
Ensure adequate lighting in the workplace.
Eliminate distractions such as noise or excessive heat that can cause fatigue.
Implement the drug and alcohol policy and communicate the disciplinary process.


The obstacles to positive safety cultures are short cuts, overconfidence, lack of cleanliness, negative mindset, ignorance of safety rules, group pressure, mental distractions, stress, fatigue, lack of work preparation, unscheduled work without adequate information and inadequate risk assessment. The culture of positive safety is the result of the shared mentality, beliefs, skills, perceptions and patterns of behaviour in the organization that determines management's commitment to health and safety management. Barriers to a positive safety culture can be removed through motivation, training, education and empowerment.

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