Building a Safety Culture: Part 1

November 5, 2014

At Brasfield & Gorrie, safety isn’t a just department or a part of operations; it is a culture that is central to the way we do business. Our safety culture has evolved from our people-focused organizational culture. Safety matters because all people matter and have value, including every individual touched in any way by our work, both inside and outside our organization.

With a corporate culture that feels like a family, it’s no surprise that safety is our top corporate value. In families, people look out for one another, and that begins with looking out for their well-being. With this in mind, our safety system is not about rules. It is about caring. We don’t measure success by statistics alone. We measure success by the trust built among our teams, by empowerment of our individual team members, and by an attitude of continuous learning.

While there are many variables involved in building a safety culture, it all begins with leadership.

SafetyManagementSystem-Leadership-Makes-it-WorkLeadership creates the environment from which employees derive their behavior. Supervisors provide feedback that shapes future behavior and sets a tone that safety is a value that will not be compromised. Believing that safety is a system and leadership makes it work, we employ a safety management system that seeks to build a safety culture through a cycle of continuous improvement. This cycle begins with a leadership commitment from the top and cycles through to feedback through learning. Our approach encourages open lines of communication throughout each step of the system. Any worker can request a Safety Huddle at any time, stopping the work to request clarity about circumstances that appear dangerous. Our safety management system strives to employ the ideas of many to protect the one—and to empower the awareness of one to recognize a danger missed by the many.

In part two of this series, Brasfield & Gorrie Corporate Safety Director Troy Ogden will discuss some of the tactics we employ to build a strong safety culture.

Tom Garrett is Chief Safety and Human Resources Officer at Brasfield & Gorrie.