Six “How-Tos” to Create a Safety Culture

Posted in: Commercial Insurance, Risk Management Consulting

Two teams have worked hard every day to face-off as the best-in class for one Sunday to become Champions. Are they there by luck? Did they just stumble into the game? No way, because you can’t stumble into winning the Big Game. The same goes for creating a best-in-class workplace safety culture.

When a Super Bowl-winning team is interviewed, are they ever completely shocked at what they accomplished? No! You never hear them say, “We don’t know how this happened. We practiced a few times, flew to the Super Bowl, got off the plane, played ok, and just won.”

Super Bowl teams win because they have a goal—win the Super Bowl—and they aggressively work towards that goal. Similarly, with workplace safety, we want you to have a goal of preventing serious and fatal exposures and work aggressively towards that goal.

But having a goal alone is not enough. You need to execute a winning game plan. Follow these six best practices to help you create a safety culture for your organization.

  1. Super Bowl winners make winning a value, not a priority.

    Priorities change—values don’t! They practice relentlessly, even when they don’t feel like it or they are busy with competing priorities. Their core value is being the best at what they do every day.In the same way, make workplace safety a value not a priority. Don’t skip the practices. Yes, I know the bid must get out today, or the production line needs to be repaired, but canceling safety training, safety committee meetings, safety assessments, etc., when things get busy sends the message that safety is just a priority that can change, not a value that you live by. During my 30-year career I have never seen a company go out of business for being too safe. However, I have seen many go out of business for being unsafe because the importance of safety culture at their business wasn’t a value.

  2. Super Bowl winners have coaches that constantly assess them.

    Good coaches identify improvement areas and leverage each team member’s strengths. Use your safety coach to help you. This could be an internal subject matter expert or an outside safety consultant who can help you create a safety culture. Don’t forget that most major insurance carriers and leading brokers, like PSA, have professional safety risk management services to assist you. These services are usually included in your insurance policy, so use them.

  3. Super Bowl winners are open to feedback.

    Effective coaches tell players what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. Listen to the feedback from your workplace safety coaches. Combine your industry expertise with their safety management experience. Then, implement a team approach. Whether you have a safety director or an HR person with collateral duties as the quarterback of your safety team, they need everyone internally and externally working towards the same goal, workplace safety, to succeed. By creating a safety culture, you’ll be able to address these questions.

  4. Super Bowl winners work together as team on both offense and defense.

    Nobody says “it’s not my job if someone else is making a mistake.” No one individual is perfect, but as team they execute perfectly. Develop both your offense and defense. Occupational safety and health offense includes performing assessments, listening to employees concerns, and implementing proactive improvement efforts. Finally, form your defense. Are you prepared in case of a serious injury? Do you and your management team know what to do if OSHA shows up? Do you have a lawyer that specializes in workplace safety laws and OSHA matters ready to protect you if needed? Do you know how to manage the cost of claims by using early reporting and having strong return-to-work polices?

  5. Super Bowl winners practice the basics over-and-over again.

    If the play goes wrong, they have a back-up plan and know how to scramble out of a dilemma.Practice the basics of safety. Implement a workplace safety training process to teach an employee how to safely perform a task, reinforce it, and teach them again. Coach them until they can complete a work task flawlessly and safely every time. Also, train them how to scramble if things go wrong! Providing constant training, feedback, coaching, and skills reinforcement will make your employees champions in workplace safety.

  6. Super Bowl winners avoid injuries.

    Star players are useless sitting on the bench.Finally, practice the steps above to avoid injuries to your key players. Injuries rob your company of profits, brand reputation, production, and morale. A healthy team is a winning team. You can’t win the safety game with a bunch of injured key players.

I know what you’re thinking right now, “Put me in coach—I’m ready!” Let’s work together to develop a playbook that leads to victory. If you’re ready to get into the Super Bowl-level safety game, give me a call at 443-798-7329 or email me at