The objectives of a safety culture assessment

There can be several objectives for conducting a safety culture assessment, and these can affect the choice of the most appropriate method.  The objectives can include:

  • Identifying areas that need improving;
  • Identifying strengths and weaknesses;
  • Benchmarking – both within the industry and more generally;
  • Seeking the views of staff and identifying their concerns;
  • Seeking improvement suggestions from staff;
  • Raising awareness and profile of safety within the company.
A consequence of any major safety culture assessment is that it raises expectations within the workforce about management’s response to the findings.  This can be very useful if the company’s response to the findings is prompt, positive and meets workforce expectations – this will then help to demonstrate management’s commitment and genuine interest in safety, and hence is likely to “kick start” further improvement.  Failure to respond adequately – either too little, too late, or not communicated, will do more harm than if the assessment had not been undertaken at all.  Small scale, low profile reviews can be useful to inform management on options and strategies prior to, or instead of a full safety culture assessment.

Survey approaches are very good at allowing all employees views to be sought, but are of limited use in obtaining improvement ideas.  Workshops are very good for obtaining employee concerns and improvement ideas, but frequently only include a selection of employees.