A knowledge based tool for the development of a better safety culture


Safety culture often reflects the ”attitudes, beliefs, perceptions and values that the employees share in relation with safety” [1].The term was first used in the IINSAG Report on Cernobil (1988).
Reason [2] highlights that the safety culture is a “concept whose time has come”, stating that there are both challenges and opportunities “to create a principled basis for more effective culture enhanced practices”.
A more succint definition of safety culture would be “safety culture is how organisation behaves when no one is watching”.
Is safety culture important ? Yes, if we need to have:
-a better and improved safety at the workplace, safety which involves the commitment of all the involved actors – from employees to employers, through the safety experts and safety manager of the enterprise;
-a shared awarness regarding risks at the workplace towards the global image of specific occupational risks acting on the enterprise;
-a management commited to safety which is acting in close relation with the employees in order to improve continously the well being at workplace.
Challenges to the leadership of the enterprise are:
-to determine at which level the safety culture in the company is- for the moment- and at which level are fixed the goals for the culture in the general image of enterprise development;
-to decide if they are really commited to the culture improvement or this will be only the responsibility of employees- which should manage the culture as psossible;
-to chart and allow the navigation on a path from here (actual safety culture) to then (optimal safety culture).
A weak safety culture can (and would be) an evidence of action (or moreover- inaction) of personnel at all the levels of organization.
Key attributes of an optimal safety culture would be:
-safety as a core value;
-strong leadership with delegation of responsibilities regarding safety in the whole employee mass;
-high standards of performance;
-maintaining a sense of vulnerability among the employees in order to make them aware that hazards are at the workplace even if we don t see them;
-empover individuals to fulfill their safety responsibilities;
-establish a learning environment;
-foster mutual trust;
-provide continous monitoring of performance;
Its main elements are:
-professional- without professionals we could not speak of safety in a real sense; the goal would be that as many as possible employees should be trained and prepared to solve specific safety aspects;
-maintains risks below ALARP for property, people and environment;
-manage potential hazardous activities mainly through collective preventive and improvement actions;
-considers safety as a real goal into the management portfolio;
-is based on prospective visions upon the future of the enterprise on a mid and long term basis;
-raise constant awarness regarding risks, taking into account also new and emergent risks;
-is based on the just culture notion;
-works through employees towards management and top management- in order to cover all the floor aspects regarding safety and health at the workplace;
Figure 1 shows the main elements.


Figure 1- Main safety culture elements

The proposed paper starts from a real need- the improvement from an ad-hoc safety culture to a minimal optimal structured safety culture so that the enterprise should obtain a continous safety improvement on this sole basis- if there are also resources in order to invest in safety this could be optimal- however if not, safety culture should be the improvement engine for all the needed safety at the enterprise level.
A root cause analysis for the development of an optimal safety culture is included.After this root cause analysis a safety seed could be implemented in the enterprise in order to lead to the desired safety culture. The safety seed develops later into a  framework in order to develop efficiently the safety culture.
All the presented structures were developed into a prototype and were tested in Romania in a an energy complex- which included mining, thermo-energy units and electrical distribution.In the Conclusion part are prezented some aspects regarding this structure.


Finding the optimal safety culture seed is an important aspect to start with. In doing this we have done a DMAIC Six Sigma Analysis combined with a Root Cause Analysis.

Root Cause Analysis should identify the main causes of problems (variations) regarding the safety of the enterprise. In addition, DMAIC stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control and would be the best way to develop the safety culture seed.
Main elements for root cause analysis are shown in Figure 2.


Figure 2 Root Cause Analysis Diagram

Taking into account that we are focused on the safety culture, the order of the Root Causes that must be included in the safety culture seed development is:

Human Factor-->Task-->Machine-->Work Environment.
In this case, DMAIC goes as follows:
D-Define- define the main elements of the safety culture seed; these elements are defined now and nuanced in the framework part of this paper.
The main elements defined for the seed are:
-Commitment;
-Behavior;
-Awarness;
-Adaptability;
-Information;
-Justness;
M-Measure- express the possible metrics for this seed; using a Likert scale, the above mentioned elements could be estimated, taking into account that 0 stands for inexistent and 5 for excellent;
A-Analyze- analyze the optimization of the safety culture seed;  if the assessed values are below 3- as a minimal threshold, the analyze step should find why the elements with a measurement below 3 are behaving like this and what should be done in order to improve them; for example, a better commitment could go with a bigger individual responsibility of the employee in safety assurance; if the employee would be put in position to solve safety problems they would like to have the best optimal safety culture in order to help them to solve safety problems;
I-Improve-solutions for the improvement of safety seed that could be useful in mean time; the solutions are derived from the Analysis phase and would go gradual, from the solutions that are free of costs towards the solutions that require a resource investment.
C-Control- control the development of the seed into an efficient safety culture at the level of enterprise. The control part should be exercized with care by the enterprize management together with the employees. A too management oriented control would be seen as rigid; a lose control would be easily avoided by the employees. In this part commitment and control should work together in order to assure an optimal control level. 

Going down in the search for a better safety culture it is possible to detail the main elements as they were shown above. The components are presented in Table 1.


Table 1 Detailed elements and components of the safety culture framework.
Element
Short description
Components
Commitment
All the interested stakeholders are safety culture oriented as long as the enterprise functions. Moreover, they are ready to perform  durable improvements on all the lifecycle of safety culture.
-Management concern;
-Perception of safety importance;
-Prioritization on safety;
-Personnel involvement and accountability;
Behavior
Safety oriented behavior and its drivers
-Employee’s with the respect to safety;
-Mutual expectations;
-Job satisfaction;
Awarness
Understanding the presence of hazards , learning how to identify them and to pre-mitigate them below the ALARP level.
-attitude towards unreported hazards<
-concern for safety;
Adaptability
Giving efficiency to safety culture for specific environments.
-Pro-active attitude to prevent undesired behaviors;
-Actions in respect to negative happenings;
-Employee input;
Information
Includes all the aspects regarding data, information and knowledge at the safety culture level.
-Availability of information;
-Communication of world related information;
-Training;
-Safety issues reporting system;
-Consequences on safety reports;
-Information exchange about safety issues;
Justness
Usage of just culture as the basis for safety culture;
-Evaluation of safety related behaviors;
-Perception of evaluation and HR management;
-Passing of responsibility;

Figure 3 gives an equivalent of the framework structure .

1.    Cox S.,Cox T. (1991), The structure of employee attitude to safety-an European Sample, in Work and stress 5, pg.93-96

2.    Reason J (1998), Achieving a safety culture in theory and practice, in Work and Stress, 2,pg.293-296


Figure 3 Framework improved