Building a Strong Safety Culture

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) emphasizes that fostering a robust safety culture is the single most influential factor in reducing workplace accidents and injuries. Consequently, prioritizing the development of a safety culture should be a key focus for all levels of leadership within your organization.

A company’s safety culture mirrors the overall mindset of the organization and the people shaping it. So, naturally, most employees take their cues on safety and its importance from the perception their employer creates. Take a moment to gauge how the front-line crew feels about safety. Is it a significant concern for them? Are they fully committed to influencing others to prioritize it? Do they believe that leadership is genuinely dedicated to safety? A team’s stance on safety is a pivotal factor in shaping the safety culture landscape.

Importance of a Safety Culture

Safety is attached to big numbers. OSHA estimates tell a compelling story:

  • Employers spend nearly $1 billion weekly for direct workers’ comp costs.
  • Injuries and illnesses increase workers’ comp expenses and inflate retention costs.
  • Companies are taking a hit of around $63 billion annually due to lost productivity from injuries and illnesses.1

Given these substantial expenses, it’s no surprise that an established safety culture can cut your injury and illness costs by 20 to 40 percent.

But culture is about more than numbers.

Beyond the primary advantage of ensuring the safety and engagement of workers, a robust safety culture has ripple effects. It can elevate worker morale, enhance employee retention rates, and boost productivity and quality. A strong safety culture significantly contributes to job satisfaction, team cohesion, and genuine pride in being part of an organization prioritizing worker safety.

Essential elements of an Effective Safety Culture

A robust safety culture serves as the cornerstone for overall safety within your organization and features several fundamental principles that shape its foundation:

Management Commitment – Leadership plays a pivotal role in setting the tone and consistently emphasizing the value of safety throughout the organization.

Management & Employee Attitude – Both management and employees contribute to the collective attitude towards safety, fostering a shared commitment to a secure work environment.

Ownership & Accountability – Accountability at all management levels is crucial for safety. Proactive measures, often called “leading indicators,” should be seamlessly integrated into their performance evaluations, akin to assessments of quality and timeliness.

Employee Training & Motivation – Regular and formal employee safety training is vital, ensuring a consistent frequency to reinforce best practices and keep safety at the forefront of everyone’s mindset.

Policies & Procedures – A well-defined and documented safety manual is fundamental. It should encompass all relevant compliance and risk management programs, including but not limited to OSHA recordkeeping, incident and near-miss reporting and investigation, return-to-work programs, loss trending, claims management, new hire orientation, and employee progressive disciplinary programs.

To fortify your organization’s safety culture, it is imperative to instill a sense of responsibility and commitment from leadership to individual contributors. Establishing safety committees or organizing safety meetings with representation from the general workforce can drive safety awareness to the grassroots level and support collective dedication to a secure and healthy workplace.


MJ has outlined a comprehensive framework comprising five stages of safety culture maturity, ranging from Level 1 – Compliant to Level 5 – Industry Leading. These levels not only gauge the current state of an organization’s safety culture but also act as a strategic guide for its evolution. While an organization may currently find itself at a specific level, the overarching aim should be to reach at least Level 4 – Embedded Safety Culture.

Establishing a clear vision of the desired maturity level is essential for progress. Advancing through these levels takes effort across the entire organization and often works in tandem with specific milestones and goals. Since we know that safety culture reflects an organization’s ethos, leadership commitment at the highest levels is pivotal in supporting and driving this organizational-wide initiative.

Nurturing a Culture of Safety

Foster a safety-centric environment in your organization using these effective strategies:

Craft a Comprehensive Safety Vision – Develop a site-wide safety vision that encompasses key policies, goals, measures, and both strategic and operational plans.

Introduce a “Buddy System” – Pair experienced individuals with newer workers to serve as role models and demonstrate safe work procedures, fostering a supportive learning environment.

Promote Collective Responsibility – Assign safety responsibilities across all organizational levels and encourage all employees to be vigilant for one another’s safety.

Align Management and Supervisors – Establish a shared vision for safety and health goals, emphasizing their importance over production objectives to ensure unified commitment.

Hold Management Accountable – Implement a process that holds management responsible for visibly engaging, setting examples, and leading positive changes in safety and health.

Prioritize Worker Orientation – Make management available during worker orientation, emphasizing the organization’s commitment to safety.

Demonstrate Commitment to Health and Safety – Implement safe work practices and communicate a zero-tolerance policy for unsafe actions to underscore the organization’s dedication to employee wellbeing.

Incorporate Safety into Communications – Make health and safety an integral part of workplace communications, reinforcing its importance regularly.

Encourage Reporting – Foster a culture where workers feel comfortable reporting health and safety concerns promptly, providing multiple channels for suggestions, concerns, and problems.

Establish a Hazard Correction System – Develop a robust system for tracking and ensuring timely corrections of hazards, emphasizing proactive safety measures.

Report Near-Misses – Ensure the organization has a reporting system for near-miss incidents, injuries, and the need for first aid, promoting continuous improvement.

Conduct Safety Training – Promote regular safety training sessions and emergency response training to enhance employees’ preparedness and awareness.

Maintain Safety Equipment – Ensure that safety equipment is well-maintained and appropriately worn by employees to maximize its effectiveness.

Realign Incentives and Disciplinary Systems – Revise incentive and disciplinary systems to prioritize and accommodate safety and health concerns.2

Elevate Your Safety Culture with the MJ Companies

At The MJ Companies, we’re not about the “set it and forget it” approach. Instead, we roll up our sleeves and work closely with you to craft tailored solutions that elevate your safety culture. Our services, including Safety Culture Surveys, go beyond the surface. We assess and benchmark your current culture, consult with leadership to identify best practices, and execute collaborative service plans tailored to your organization’s unique needs.

Contact us today and discover how we can assist you in cultivating a robust safety culture and put your future in focus.