Shaping safety culture and behaviour

Shaping safety culture and behaviour

What is safety culture?

The health and safety culture of an organisation is a 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. 

Why is safety culture important?

Research shows that most workplace incidents and injuries are caused by human error. These errors are unintentional, occurring because of a lack of “Safety Awareness”. In fact, OTML’s 2018 Safety Culture Assessment indicated that cultural factors, beliefs and attitudes are the key contributors to incidents.

This is important because we can improve our personal safety awareness – which is what OTML’s behavioural safety program ASAB is focused on (some of you are ASA Safety Coaches and a majority of your workforce have been coached in the Level 1 program).

Leading to improve and shape the safety culture

The same way we can increase safety awareness to drive behaviour, we can improve and shape safety culture through leadership. True leaders help their people feel safe – safe to think, speak and behave safely. High-performance leadership and high-performance cultures are built on Trust and Psychological Safety.


Psychological Safety

 Take a moment to consider how comfortable you feel when you ask a question, report an error or provide feedback suggesting a certain project or initiative isn’t working. Are you ever concerned that expressing these thoughts could have negative consequences that would impact your image, status or career? The belief that you can express these thoughts or concerns that may ‘rock the boat’ without negative repercussions is defined as psychological safety.

Creating psychological safety: Amy Edmondson – (3:13)

Watch the video on the right and continue down the page. 

There are four types of psychological safety:


  • Inclusion Safety: You feel safe to be yourself and are accepted for who you are.
  • Learner Safety: You feel safe to ask questions, give and receive feedback, contribute ideas and make mistakes.
  • Contributor Safety: You feel safe to use your skills and abilities to make a meaningful contribution to OTML.
  • Challenger Safety: You feel safe to speak up and challenge the status quo when you think there’s an opportunity to suggest a change or improvement.

By increasing psychological safety at OTML you can help prevent harm as your team will feel safe to raise any genuine concerns they have about equipment, procedure, systems and behaviours that may contribute to a workplace accident. Psychological safety is also a key driver of innovation and results. To shift from a reactive to proactive and resilient safety culture, OTML continues to enhance its policies, systems and safe work procedures and invests in behavioural safety training. As a leader you need to consistently build trust and psychological safety to shape culture and develop high performance teams.

Why good leaders make you feel safe (11:59 mins)

Watch the video on the right and continue down the page. 

Activity 3 – Complete the ASAB Personal Safety Awareness Survey by 14 March.

Please remember to complete the ASAB personal safety awareness survey by the 14th of March. 

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