Understanding Safety Culture in the Workplace

November 9, 2023
Featured image for “Understanding Safety Culture in the Workplace”

Most employees would say they desire to work in a safe workplace, so why doesn’t every organization see the importance of creating a safe work culture? The biggest issue many businesses face is not having the necessary resources to initiate the best possible workplace environment. This doesn’t mean you’re at a loss — there’s always room to make your workplace a better environment for productivity and employee well-being. 

To know what could improve in your company, it’s beneficial to first look at what workplace safety culture truly is, then learn different tips to foster a culture of health and well-being. Let’s look at these items and more. 

What Is Safety Culture?

Safety culture is an organizational culture that places a high level of importance on safety beliefs, values and attitudes. This concept in theory is very simple, but many factors positively and negatively influence the workplace, impacting whether the environment is truly safe for all people. 

It’s also beneficial to know the difference between safety culture and safety climate, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Safety culture: A broad term encompassing overall organizational culture, values and actions.
  • Safety climate: A narrower term focusing on staff’s current perceptions about supervision, resources and policies that support how safety practices are monitored and managed through trust and transparency. 

While a culture of safety is the most ideal working situation, not all companies have this type of healthy environment for employees. Here are four types of corporate safety cultures:

Forced Culture

Employers use bribes and threats to get employees to interact safely or be interested in training on safety best practices. Often, upper management is seen as the safety police as rules and regulations are enforced through fear. Most organizations that have forced cultures don’t get the most productivity out of their employees because fear doesn’t cultivate top-notch performance or motivation for improvement. 

Protective Culture

Employers implement safety programs for employees with the main focus being on a large number of rules and procedures. When a rule is broken, the first response of the officer is generally to make even more rules. Rather than solving the initial problem, this type of environment simply creates an unending flow of regulations that don’t provide clear guidance on expectations. Protective culture also produces slightly better work levels than the forced culture, but not more than average performance.

Involved Culture

This type of culture is characterized by high levels of safety training that are attended by employees but not by upper management. While it’s beneficial to have any training on workplace safety in general, having no C-suite executives involved makes it seem like the responsibility of creating a positive culture lands solely on the employees. While this process does involve the workers, every single person within a company must be involved — including senior staff members. People are more relaxed because management isn’t breathing down their necks, but the situation is not as positive as it could be with upper management being involved as well. 

Integral Culture

This final type of safety culture is the best scenario for a company to aim for. It has lots of training, attended by every single person in the company, including upper management. This type of company operates successfully by having the top lead by example and expecting a trickle-down effect on employees under them. This helps the C-suite be held accountable and allows other employees to know that safety is being taken seriously. Ultimately, when everyone is involved in training on effective safety culture in the workplace, people are more inclined to produce high-quality work and take care of those around them. 

Improving Your Organization’s Emphasis on Safety

If you fall into one of the safety culture categories outside of the integral option, it’s okay! While it does take work, bettering your company’s role in safety can be done by incorporating the following best practices:


Proper safety starts when your employees have the information necessary to make smart decisions for themselves and the others around them. Ensure you, as a company leader, provide clear instruction and education on safety standards set for your workplace. Also, when an executive has excellent communication skills, they can set the tone for the workplace and show what respectful speech and actions look like. 


Once the members of your team know what’s expected of them, lead by example. Participating in training sessions and having your staff hold you accountable are great ways to show everyone you’re taking responsibility for the safety of the company. It’s also important to ensure each and every employee is a part of the safety conversation. 

Furthermore, management can visit their employees regularly to check that the space is compliant, assess potential hazards or workplace accidents and ask questions to better understand the needs of each person. Engagement and involvement — from both the upper and lower management levels — can motivate employees and help them achieve higher job satisfaction, according to Recognize. When workers know their opinions matter and the company leaders are actively involved in day-to-day operations and training, the workspace becomes a safer place to be. 

Report Concerns

An open-door policy is critical for your employees to know they can bring their issues to you. Make sure everyone’s comfortable providing input and reporting safety or health concerns. The most secure work environment is one where the organization has safety protocols in place that make it easy for workplace accidents, unsafe behavior or other incidents to be reported as soon as possible. To achieve this, the upper management team can implement an open-door policy, encouraging anyone to bring forward safety concerns at a moment’s notice, without fear of negative repercussions or backlash. 

Make Safety Procedures Easily Accessible

Another part of open and clear communication is keeping the safety standards and regulations widely and easily available to all workers. This could mean they’re posted on a bulletin board where everyone can see or all resources are obtainable on your website. It’s not enough to tell workers what expectations are. To have these workplace safety practices accessible and consistent, they must be recorded and built into your company’s business strategy. Safety documents will be unique for each organization, but having clearly defined regulations is advantageous for all areas of business, from employee well-being to compliance. 

Build a Safety Program 

A successful safety culture starts with drawing attention to the needs and expectations of everyone in the organization and then building a safety program that fills in the missing gaps. A safety program involves identifying potential hazards in the workplace and developing safety methods to manage those risks. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), safety and health programs help businesses:

  • Prevent workplace injuries and illnesses.
  • Improve compliance with laws and regulations.
  • Reduce costs, including significant reductions in workers’ compensation premiums.
  • Engage workers.
  • Pursue their social responsibility goals.
  • Increase productivity and enhance overall business operations.

To create a safety program from the ground up, you’ll need to clearly establish policies for worker safety and health protection. Supervisors should be held responsible for the safety and health of each employee as part of their job. On top of that, your company should allocate adequate amounts of resourcing and training to ensure everyone has what they need to be successful and protected. Lastly, the program should include a hazard assessment process for the company, analyzing risks and coming up with solutions. 

Monitor, Review and Reflect on Company Effectiveness

The great thing about an effective safety culture is that there’s always space to make improvements. Your company’s procedures won’t be a document you set and forget — they require continuous action and improvement. 

But to know how to fine-tune your safety rules, you’ll need to check in on the effectiveness of your policies. Ask your employees for their opinions on the mandated directives and see how they’d fix areas that may need special attention. These regulations are to keep them safe, after all. Wouldn’t you want to know the thoughts of those who are directly affected by the company’s safety culture? After hearing from them, make an effort to implement their ideas for employee safety so everyone feels seen, heard and important. 

Encourage Continuous Learning

A one-time education on employee safety and workplace culture isn’t enough. Supervisors must seek opportunities for consistent improvement and long-term learning through training and employee feedback. To maintain a positive and proactive safety culture in the workplace, continual advancements in safety standards are crucial. As technology changes and employees’ needs shift, workplace culture must adapt to stay up to date. Time brings new equipment that must be learned, different techniques to be mastered and software updates that may change business operations — all of which require the safety standards and regulations to be updated for maximum efficiency. 

Additionally, hearing from workers on what problems they face on a daily basis can help C-suite executives know what advancements may need to be made. This goes back to the importance of an open line of communication between management and employees. 

Tap Into an Innovative Training Solution

Life-long learning comes easier when you are provided with hundreds of training videos on demand. With this method of education, you can encourage employee engagement through insightful sessions that grab attention and promote conversation among employees and management. 

When you think of leadership and safety training, you may picture a dark room with a projector at its center, displaying images of unsafe scenarios while someone drones on about what could happen if your employees aren’t careful. While any type of training on this topic is beneficial, it’s not as transformative as video training can be. Video Training Power empowers you with a library full of tools and resources, all digitally stored and ready to be played on demand. With engaging content at your fingertips, you can be a trailblazer for a safe work culture and give your employees everything they need to be protected and successful. 

What To Do Next

Ready to make your company a safer place to work? Follow these steps to implement improved safety culture initiatives within your workplace:

  • Establish your organization’s safety values: Senior managers should take employees’ needs and feedback into account as they build out a clearly defined safety culture document. The included regulations should be easy to understand and take every person into consideration. 
  • Communicate the expectations: Post this document in places where employees will see it, and ensure it’s verbally presented to each worker. Also, put the resource online to be accessed at any time. 
  • Lead by example: Supervisors are then responsible for leading the charge by demonstrating the safety standards on a regular basis. This helps decrease unsafe behavior and encourages others to do the same. 
  • Continuously train your organization: Educate staff members on the company’s safety culture expectations and shed light on workplace accidents and possible risks they should be aware of. Then, give them tools and resources to improve their safety and protect their well-being.

Become a leader who emphasizes the safety and well-being of your employees by using these videos as your guide. Get started with Video Training Power today.