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Understanding your organisation’s safety culture for better safety outcomes

Factors driving safety up the organisational agenda

In May 2011, two Australian companies were fined $200,000 in total after an employee lost his foot in a serious accident on a construction site three years earlier. The 32-year-old worker’s legs were crushed by a large concrete precast machine after he was asked to investigate why it wasn’t working properly. He got caught in a conveyor belt, which eventually resulted in the amputation of his left foot.

A WorkCover investigation found staff training on how to operate the machine was inadequate and the risk to the victim’s safety was foreseeable. This is just one of too many preventable events.

Workplace safety has always been a serious issue and new work health and safety laws mean that penalties are more severe and can include both onerous financial payments and jail for individual officers. Also, definitions of roles and workforces are broader and there’s an increased onus of proactive due diligence. These new laws commenced on 1 January 2012 in NSW, QLD, ACT, the Commonwealth and NT in response to the Council of Australia Governments formally committed to the harmonisation of work health and safety laws across Australia.

In the Business of Safety Survey 2011, conducted by The Safety Institute of Australia and The Australian Institute of Management, only 72% of CEOs/board directors strongly agreed that their top level management demonstrates a commitment to workplace safety. If that isn’t worrying enough, only 32% of HR personnel strongly agreed and only 27% of workplace health and safety personnel strongly agreed that their top level management demonstrated a commitment to workplace safety.

In the same study, 78% of respondent organisations used incident reports to measure and monitor workplace safety performance – informing a view of the past – yet only 29% measured their health and safety culture – which could be a leading and therefore life saving forward indicator.

Australia’s increasing workplace health and safety legislation reflects a global trend. Directors and senior executives are realising that if they haven’t demonstrated proactive due diligence in relation to workplace safety, they may be leaving themselves at risk.

Understanding an organisation’s safety culture is a prerequisite for making improvements.

Understanding and measuring the predictive drivers of safety enables you to manage safety culture and risk proactively.

For organisations to understand what safety risks need to be managed, the first step is understanding their safety culture. This involves reaching out to every person at every level of the organisation to ensure you’re not being shielded from “real truths”. For example, supervisors in a warehouse may have KPIs to reduce safety incidents which may have the unintended consequence of their workers being discouraged from reporting incidents or near-misses because of a lack of focus on supported behaviours.

Insync Surveys’ Safety Culture Survey framework measures three drivers that have the strongest impact on safety outcomes:

  • Psychological factors – measuring feelings and attitudes towards safety
  • Behavioural factors – understanding what people do to maintain a safe work place
  • Situational factors – measuring understanding of safety policies, procedures and systems what

To gain a complete view of what’s occurring inside the organisation Insync Surveys also offers an employee engagement component in our Safety Culture Survey. Our research indicates that engaged employees are less likely to be involved in safety incidents.

What you can expect

An experienced consultant will work with your organisation from start to finish, providing support and best practice knowledge to ensure your Safety Culture Survey is a success. They will personally conduct debriefs and give insights based on their technical and industry experience. Your organisation’s results are presented in a clear and concise report with traffic light colouring to show which areas are of greatest concern. This simple snapshot can move your executive team from blame storming to brainstorming. We also offer a post-survey client portal and action planning portal to provide auditable action planning ensuring accountability and transparency.


  • Top level management are demonstrating a stronger commitment to workplace safety
  • Understanding and measuring the predictive drivers of safety enables managers to manage safety proactively
  • Insync Surveys’ Safety Culture Survey shows your safety culture through the eyes of your workforce and provides the framework for continuous improvement planning

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