Improving safety culture through the health and safety organization

INTRODUCTION: International research indicates that internal health and safety organizations (HSO) and health and safety committees (HSC) do not have the intended impact on companies' safety performance. The aim of this case study at an industrial plant was to test whether the HSO can improve company safety culture by creating more and better safety-related interactions both within the HSO and between HSO members and the shop-floor.
METHODS: A quasi-experimental single case study design based on action research with both quantitative and qualitative measures was used.
INTERVENTION: Based on baseline mapping of safety culture and the efficiency of the HSO three developmental processes were started aimed at the HSC, the whole HSO, and the safety representatives, respectively.
RESULTS: Results at follow-up indicated a marked improvement in HSO performance, interaction patterns concerning safety, safety culture indicators, and a changed trend in injury rates. These improvements are interpreted as cultural change because an organizational double-loop learning process leading to modification of the basic assumptions could be identified.
PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS: The study provides evidence that the HSO can improve company safety culture by focusing on safety-related interactions.

Source: Nielsen KJ. J. Saf. Res. 2014; 48: 7-17.

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