What is meant by safety and health culture?

What defines safety and health culture?

The safety and health culture of an organisation is reflection of the values, attitudes, perceptions, competencies and behaviours of the people working there.  It reflects the organisation’s commitment to, and prioritisation of, safety and health as well as the effectiveness of the organisation’s safety management system.

The elements of a safety and health culture can be organised into three categories:

  • Organisational – the policies, procedures and systems that relate to safety and health
  • Psychological – individual perceptions, attitudes and values
  • Behavioural – what people do, health and safety behaviours

It has also been suggested that a safety and health culture is defined by what people in an organisation do when they think no one is watching. Observing the behaviour of individuals can show any inconsistencies between the organisation’s advertised attitudes and values towards safety and health, and the attitudes and values that individuals display.

What is the importance of safety and health culture?

A resilient safety and health culture ensures that all organisational members, regardless of their role, are working together for better safety and health outcomes.

The department’s analysis of human and organisational factors in the Western Australian resources industry highlighted the continuing importance of maintaining and enhancing safety and health culture. This involves the roles of senior leadership, effective supervision, workforce involvement, respect for procedures, learning from lessons and the management of contractors.

The safety and health culture spectrum summarises the typical characteristics of various culture types ranging from ‘vulnerable’ to ‘resilient’. The spectrum outlines how all operations should aspire to grow a resilient culture as this is most effective when it comes to achieving safety and health outcomes. Growing a resilient culture requires consultation and communication with, and the participation of, all employees.

Safety and health culture spectrum - information sheet - 164 Kb

This information sheet shows the safety and health culture spectrum and outlines how all operations should aspire to be resilient.

What influences safety and health behavior at work?

The behaviour of individuals is heavily influenced by the work environment, the organisation people work in, and the design of the job they are asked to do. These influences are referred to as human and organisational factors.  An example of this may be workers and their equipment, work procedures or their environment.

Human and organisational factors goes into greater detail about this subject

Related information

Below is the list of documents that you may find useful.

Positive safety culture - pamphlet - 211 Kb

The Positive safety culture - pamphlet is a checklist that supervisors and workers can use to maintain their wariness at the workplace.

The following presentations covering topics related to safety culture can be downloaded to use at toolbox meetings.

How can a company's safety culture play a role in safety outcomes? (2016) - 5401 Kb

This toolbox presentation discusses how Human Factors relate to safety culture in the workplace.

Benefits of good self-regulation (2012) - 920 Kb

This toolbox presentation explains the benefits of good self-regulation, what it means and the relationship between government control and self-regulation.

Developing resilient safety and health cultures (2011) - 402 Kb

This toolbox presentation contains information on how to develop resilient safety and health cultures.

Effective consultation (2008) - 1873 Kb

This toolbox presentation contains information on how to consult effectively and ways to resolve issues that may arise.

Raising and solving safety and health issues at the workplace (2011) - 2873 Kb

This toolbox presentation covers appropriate ways to raise and solve safety and health issues in the workplace.

Regulator’s role in supporting positive cultural change to enhance safety management in mining (2013) - 14631 Kb

This toolbox presentation explains the regulator's role in supporting positive cultural change to enhance safety management in mining.

Resources Safety and industry working together to improve safety and health outcomes (2012) - 4083 Kb

This toolbox presentation explains how resources safety and industry are working together to improve safety and health outcomes. This is through teamwork, audits and focus groups.

Safety culture - importance of incident reporting (2008) - 4996 Kb

This toolbox presentation contains information about the importance of incident reporting, discussion points, compliance and communication.

Safety culture - Part 1: Integrating human factors and safety management systems (2007) - 1044 Kb

This toolbox presentation contains information for integrating human factors and safety management systems explains a systems approach to human error management.

Safety culture - Part 2: What does safety culture mean for mining? (2007) - 2387 Kb

This toolbox presentation explains what is safety culture in Australian mining, active failures, changing the safety culture and fallibility management.

Safety culture - Part 3: Safety culture in practice in Australian mining (2007) - 865 Kb

This toolbox presentation examines the issues that face the Australian mining industry in terms of building safety cultures in the workplace, and what it means in practical terms.