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Dowdy safety image needs effective leadership
Posted by David Cant on February 22, 2009

The Safety Culture

Effective leadership from senior management is a key feature of a positive safety culture as it determines how everybody else in the organisation will view and act upon safety issues.

Unfortunately, safety management is not a field that excites many senior managers and executives.

Attending to safety issues tends to be seen as something that is required by the legislature, is boring and has little `glamour’ attached to it, rather than as something that will be seen to contribute to profit and competitiveness. Perhaps because of safety’s perceived dowdy image, corporate safety initiatives are all too often delegated to middle and junior managers, with the result that senior managers tend to become even less involved in the management of safety (i.e. `I have successfully washed my hands of that problem!’).

Inevitably, this abdication of responsibility tends to result in safety management becoming too narrowly focused, with strategic direction being lost in the process as middle and junior management concern themselves with the `how’ of safety, rather than with the `what’ and `why’.

In turn, this tends to result in specialist departments, groups or committees being set up to advise middle and junior managers about how safety might be improved.

The use of external health and safety consultants also becomes much more widespread as they begin to fulfil middle or junior managers’ safety responsibilities for them (e.g. conducting a health and safety audit), further adding to operational costs.

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Director at Veritas Consulting. The SME's favourite go-to consultant for health and safety know-how. Bucket loads of experience. Fluent in practical advice. Solutionist with a brain you can pick.

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