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Article by Aly Vinciguerra, Principal HSEC Consultant – Sustainability Pty Ltd

What is a healthy workplace health and safety culture? 

For decades this has been, and continues to be, one of the most difficult questions for organisations to answer and over that time the definition has changed as workplace health and safety has evolved.  Gone are the days where singlet and shorts are accepted as the outdoors workplace attire.  No longer are safety performance indicators targeting a reduction in fatalities.  Confirming fitness for work is an expected and anticipated obligation and the practice of consuming alcohol in the workplace at the end of the week is almost unheard of.  The awareness and the importance of risk management is well understood and tools to facilitate the process integrated into most businesses.  The rules and expectations surrounding workplace health and safety have changed, the bar has been lifting and is continuing to be raised.

A healthy health and safety culture is one where:

  • the safety management system is well integrated and well understood across all levels of the organisation,
  • the organisation’s values and beliefs are aligned to and support the safety and wellbeing of all workers,
  • the acceptance, awareness, application and importance of safe work practices infiltrates all levels of the organisation,
  • workers, supervisors and managers are personally invested in their safety and the safety of others,
  • everyone is encouraged to continually look for opportunities to improve safety, health and wellbeing,
  • psychosocial hazards are well understood and well managed, and
  • consultation and communication facilitates transparency and teamwork.

So how does an organisation measure the health of the workplace health and safety culture? 

There are many online options available to undertake surveys that can give a level of understanding of the safety climate of an organisation. Although these can be an excellent barometer of the climate and very useful as a tool to measure changes in the climate over time, they are not always specific enough to translate the findings into meaningful actions and there can be reluctance for individuals to participate or respond honestly where the workplace health and safety culture is poor.  Internal audits and investigations are also mechanisms for assessing the workplace health and safety culture however these require specific questions and skills to be effective and again a poor workplace health and safety culture can inhibit and eliminate meaning findings.

How can Sustainability help?  Our team of skilled professionals can support organisations in developing workplace health and safety culture assessment tools, undertaking workplace health and safety culture assessments, identifying factors contributing the detriment of the organisation’s health and safety culture and, developing fit for purpose management strategies, tools and processes to improve the workplace health and safety culture.  We focus on simple, scalable and sustainable solutions.

Reach out to our team at to see how we can support your organisation.