Establishing a culture of safety – The zero ambition: Part 2


Strong, visible leaders at all organisational levels are a crucial component of an effective, sustainable, health and safety management programme. Through what they do, what they say and what they choose to focus on, leaders shape the culture that drives performance, and influence the systems and processes that create safe outcomes. This is particularly true of middle management and supervisory levels.

Whether we like it or not, human nature dictates that individuals define their priorities by those of their immediate leaders. If the leader is only interested in the production figures then their staff will also tend to make that the focus of their activity and priority setting. High quality, demonstrable safety leadership is an easily identifiable and important indicator of a positive safety culture.

Managers are not automatically good leaders. Some are able to fall into the role naturally, however, most do not and this is doubly true where health and safety is concerned. Many find it challenging, if not embarrassing, to talk to their staff about safety issues in a positive manner and conversations will often very quickly revert to either sport, television or anything else as an alternative.

It is important that leaders are out in the workplace talking about safety issues on a daily basis and, therefore, organisations must take it upon themselves to ensure that managers have both the right knowledge and skills in order to deliver effective safety leadership.

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