World Day for Safety and Health at Work is recognised on April 28. This day aims to raise awareness about workplace health and prevent occupational accidents and diseases at work. It encourages focusing on promoting and creating a safe and healthy work culture that can reduce work-related illness and injuries.
This year the theme for World Day for Safety and Health at Work is ‘Act together to build a positive safety and health culture’. What does this really mean and what is required from our leadership to create a foundation of safety that is systemic and all-embracing? Perhaps it is time to challenge our thinking around what it means to have a safe and healthy culture?
We have long focused on physical safety and wellbeing has made its way into most organisations. We are more alert to emotional and psychological safety as a result of the pandemic. What about the safety to have divergent and unpopular ideas and views, going against the socialised way of doing things, to buck the status quo? This is an aspect of safety that still needs considerable work in the culture of organisations everywhere. This is the safety that will drive innovation, growth, sustainability and thriving organisations in years to come.
As leaders, we are responsible for the future, ensuring our working environments are safe and supportive, encouraging an open dialogue in which everyone helps to create an all-embracing safe and healthy place to be. This foundation is built on fostering meaningful participation with people, genuinely caring about what is happening for them within the organisation.
Four things we can do as leaders to promote a positive workplace health and safety culture
Encourage open dialogue with your people, lead the way by bringing things to the table, being open and vulnerable yourself and facing into difficult conversations.
Prioritise your self-care, set the standard and expect others to take real accountability for their health and wellbeing as well as that of their colleagues.
Seek out real and honest feedback about what it is really like to work in your organisation, do not take things at face value. Make sure you unearth the hidden shadow and bring it into the light to heal.
Ensure your organisation has the fundamentals in place. Resources are available at Safe Work Australia https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au or arrange a safety expert to speak in your workplace.