The Perception of Developing a Successful Safety Culture

Leadership wants stability and methods to build permanent safety processes which will not create an adversarial relation
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  • Lectures 37
  • Length 1.5 hours
  • Skill Level All Levels
  • Languages English
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About This Course

Published 1/2016 English

Course Description

Based on experience, in many cases, there may be a perception that the Safety Professional is responsible for all safety efforts in an organization. Sometimes the Safety Professional will tend to go day-by-day trying to change the culture of the organization without attempting to gain any support from the Leadership team.

Unfortunately, in many organizations, the image of this safety position is a person who goes through the workplace looking for things that are wrong, can only quote regulations, and usually offers only one major solution, the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) or training or re-training.  Usually PPE and training is linked to promoting safety awareness, as the thinking is that PPE and training or re-training will solve problem . Many times, PPE and training becomes the default solution. While PPE and training has its place, it is not the solution to all safety-related issues, as some may think.   PPE and training are only one aspect of a good safety management system.

In many cases, hazards that need to be addressed and resolved are sometimes overlook, as it is clouded by the PPE and Training Issue.

This may be based on the formal job description and/or direct mandates from the leadership team as just “Do it” with an implied stay out of our way!

Lesson Learned

A colleague has asked supervisors and managers over a number of years to define safety in supervisor training classes and presentations.

The definitions he received include:

  • Preventing accidents or injuries;
  • Freedom from harm or injury;
  • Being safe;
  • Being aware of your surroundings;
  • Not getting hurt;
  • It's number one;
  • Following procedures and rules;
  • It is a state of being;
  • Looking out for each other;
  • Complying with OSHA;
  • Going home the same way you came to work.

The issue of defining safety is still a major area of confusion.

What are the requirements?

  • There is no mandatory requirements to take this course.
  • Basic understanding of safety management systems

What am I going to get from this course?

  • Develop a personal working definition for “Safety”
  • Discuss why perception is important for the safety culture
  • Identify ways you may be perceived in the organization
  • Identify perceptions about safety and shaping those perceptions
  • Integrate what you have learned into your safety management system

Who is the target audience?

  • All member of Leadership Team
  • Business managers
  • Employees
  • Supervision
  • Safety Professionals
  • Quality Professionals
  • Anyone interesting in learning about safety culture

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Section 1: Course Introduction

During the course of my lengthy career in safety leadership, I have had the privilege of presenting a wide range of topics at local and national conferences as well as teaching safety and risk concepts in both the physical class room and on-line class, as with well to various organizational leadership teams and employees.

A great deal of effort goes into structuring, preparing, and presenting specific information as the scope of what a safety professional must know is quite extensive. However, at the time, I never considered the amount of time and effort as a problem. Most of the material was based on needs and actions required by in-plant duties and responsibilities. Once a presentation was structured, the presentation part seemed to come natural because of my ongoing application of the particular topic.

However, when developing this Safety Culture Training course, I found a different challenge. It's not the same as being able to deliver the same type of presentation as when standing in front of a group of peers with whom you can interact and receive immediate feedback – both by verbal comments and audience body language.

This course has been in process off and on for two years as it required that I learn new teaching techniques and the methods required to best put this course together.

This Safety Culture Training course is based on personal and professional experiences, lessons learned both positive and negative, and personal insights based on reflection and hindsight. My goal has been to script the course in a logical format that can be viewed as a real-life, a down to earth approach from which other safety professionals can draw from and not just theory devoid of practicality.


In a typical organization the leadership team's charter is to run a business and make the appropriate business decisions that will move the organization toward their stated vision with the appropriate goals and objectives.

At the end of the day, the leadership team will base its actions and decisions on their past professional and personal experience and expertise and/or opinions, preconceptions based on a continuous flow of information from both internal and external resources core functions.

Section 2: Why am I Qualified to Teach this Course?

During my research, Idiscovered that the Safety Professional is a critical part of the leadership team and not just an individual contributor. I also discovered that safety efforts would be more effective if he communicated with the leadership more frequently.


In 2009, I decided that I would channel my efforts to better understand the role of how social media could be used to enhance my productivity. I quickly learned that the world is changing all around us with a fire hose of information to be understood and I wanted to share what I learned with everyone.

With mynew knowledge, I have had to learn how to adapt to the current technology and how it is changing the landscape of who we are and the way that we act and conduct business.

Section 3: The Beginning
My co-author and I have both observed good and bad elements outlined in a safety process, program design, administration, and leadership of a safety management system. We found that our differences in perspective allowed us to create diverse points of view based on our personal and professional experience, lessons learned, and insights.

Will the methods that I will be discussing work for you? As with any effort that introduces concepts that might be useful, as a professional, you need to take by discussion point and thoughts and adapt them for your own professional life, organization and work environment.

Section 4: Defining A Safety Process

The question is:

Is risk-taking acceptable? In many cases, one tends to justify some level of risk without thinking about the consequences.

This is a very important question that all leadership team members need to ask themselves.

5 questions

There are 5 principles known as “Human Performance Improvement.


Even the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) with their volumes of standards and regulations recognize that physical compliance with safety standards alone will not completely eliminate injuries.

If you think about it, it would be an impossible task for OSHA to attempt to write a regulation to address every possible potential hazard in the workplace.

3 questions

Is it possible for OSHA to write a regulation to address every possible potential hazard in the workplace.?

When considering developing a successful Safety Management System that supports a Safety Culture this one needs to have a vision of how success will look. In my experience, this vision should be a process to ensure that an organization is resilient to ongoing changes in the organizational business climate.

One of the long-held perceptions that must be overcome in an organization is the belief that the elements of a Safety Management System are permanent in their design and implementation.
The intended purpose of the Safety Management System is to incorporate fundamental safety principles into the organization.


Even though it may not be obvious at this point in time, the important point to remember is that by holding this position you are part of the leadership team. This is an opportunity in becoming a leader with assisting with building a safety process that identifies and implements controls to reduce hazards and associated risk.

What is organizational culture
2 questions
The vision of a total safety culture should be to ensure that the organization has the essential elements in place that makes it resilient to routine activities and ongoing changes in the organizational business climate. An organization must maintain a safety process in spite of leadership changes, management styles, technology, and all aspects of what goes into an organization’s survival and success.
Multi-Level Approach
4 questions

Depending on the size and scope of the organization, you, as a safety professional may be tasked with a wide range of responsibilities, wearing many hats. This is why in many cases that the safety profession can be considered as the crossroads of all that happens within an organization. Based on this you need to consider developing some multi-disciplinary skills which will enhance you responsibilities. And in turn will help you close the gap and allow you better communicate the needs of the specific organizational culture and how it can be developed with the leadership team.


One must remember that as new managers, supervisors, new employees, technology, other projects and priorities move into the operation from all directions, the safety effort will remain in a perpetual startup mode, “reinventing the wheel” as the changes evolve.


As the Safety Management system is being developed, employees will acquire some new skills and experience. As a result you should start to see changes and shifts in specific behaviors.

Therefore, in the beginning stage of developing a safety system the ultimate goal is to start to develop a level of individual accountability for all levels of the organization.

Section 5: Defining What the Word Safety Means

The assumption is made that everyone understands the definition of “safety.” The problem is that everyone defines safety differently.

Although this is just one word and may sound very simple it is still being debated as to a clear concise definition. If an organization is working with multiple definitions or vague concepts, then the potential for improving the safety culture is not clear.


In order to align a suitable definition of safety with an emphasis toward hazard and associated risk, William Montante, a colleague and risk control consultant, suggest that safety be defined more in terms of hazard control: “Replace the traditional mantras of “Safety first,” “Think safety,” “Safety is your responsibility,” etc. Strive for the personal and organizational mastery where each “hazard control manager”can state with confidence and certainty that s/he intimately understand safety and how s/he and the company manage control.”

2 questions

The issue of defining safety is not new. Safety definitions are vague and not well defined.

Section 6: Why is it Important to Understand the Perception of Safety?
In my opinion, in order to develop an effective safety culture, there needs to be a shift from a loss-based safety process that uses only injury data to drive decision making to a risk-based approach that decreases the probability of a severe loss.

In many organizations, the image of the safety professional is a person who goes through the workplace looking for things that are wrong, can only quote regulations, and usually offers little or no solutions to solve any regulatory issue, the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and training/re-training to solve an issue. `Usually PPE and training/re-training is linked to promoting safety awareness, as the thinking is that PPE and training will solve everything.

The reality and real perception of the image of the Safety Professional is highlighted in the basic written job description which generally designates the Safety Professional as the primary individual that does everything related to safety.
The Perception of Safety
1 question

Part of defining your personal brand is to look at your mental model. A mental models is considered the “images, assumptions, and stories which we carry in our minds of ourselves, other people, institutions, and every aspect of our world.”

Building Your Own Personal Brand

To help maintain some level of support for the Safety Management System, a key step in becoming a successful safety professional is to determine if you are speaking the same business language as your organization. You need to determine how to best present your case so that hazards and associated risk are defined using the same language and terminology as used by the organization. In particular your leadership.

1 question

In past lessons I have discussed much about the dynamics of building a true safety culture that will stand the test of time if implemented correctly with the support of the leadership team.

Section 7: Safety as an Espoused Value and Emergening Property

I once heard someone state that “Safety culture is a tough nut to crack.” As I thought about this statement for a few seconds I realized that Safety efforts are no difference than that of any normal organizational activity.


The Leadership team has to address the needs of multiple problems and resolve issues with the hope that the right decision(s) are selected based on the problems that needs to be addressed.

1 question

The Leadership team has to address the needs of multiple problems and resolve issues with the hope that the right decision(s) are selected based on the problems that needs to be addressed.


The potential for maintaining a strong safety culture increases if it is based on a positive perception that is woven into the fabric of the organization.

2 questions

The potential for maintaining a strong safety culture increases if it is based on a positive perception that is woven into the fabric of the organization.

Section 8: The Importance of Becoming an Information Curator

The term curation is used to describe research, organizing, and maintaining of all types of information and can be defined as “The act of curating, of organizing and maintaining of a collection of artworks or artifacts” (“Curation,” n.d.)

1 question

The term curation is used to describe research, organizing, and maintaining of all types of information and can be defined as “The act of curating, of organizing and maintaining of a collection of artworks or artifacts” (“Curation,” n.d.)


In your role, you must provide quality information that can flow among internal and external contacts. It is my belief that one must not be just a “gofer” or assuming responsibility for all aspects of the Safety Management System. This requires a continuous effort to ensure information is current, accurate, and constantly updated through open and rapid communication.

Section 9: Summary

Traditionally, safety is on the list of many other things that we, as individuals, want to accomplish. The problem is that we tend to think about safety as a priority on our to do list and not as a value concept.

One thing that we often forget is that Safety Management Systems and Quality Systems are similar in nature, utilizing many of the same basic elements. Therefore, if you understand the concepts of a Quality System, then applying those concepts to a Safety Management System can make a smooth transition.

I am Interested in your feedback on enhancing this course or other courses that I am considering developing.

It is important to note that we are in this course to work together and learn from each other.

Section 10: Acknowledgment of Authors and Resources for Safety Culture Book
Acknowledgment of Authors

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Instructor Biography

James Roughton, Safety professional experienced in Social Media Productivity

I am an experienced Safety Professional with more than 40 + years in the safety arena with an in-depth knowledge in the use of Social Media to help improve productivity.

My objective is bring a fresh point of view and dimension to my chosen profession as a Safety Professional complemented by this use of Social Media. I welcome anyone to contact me with feedback and the exchange of ideas. 

I am on a continuous journey and want to share my experiences and insights with you.  I am an accomplished speaker, author, and writer, develop and manage my own web sites that provide a resource network for small businesses. Three of my most notable books include, my newest book Safety Culture: An Innovative, Leadership Approach, Developing an Effective Safety Culture: A Leadership Approach, and Job Hazard Analysis and A Guide for Voluntary Compliance and Beyond.

My additional, expertise incorporates digital Curation tools methods and that includes the use of mind mappingtools such as Docear, writing tools such as Scrivener, and presentation tools such as Prezi and Video Scribe. In addition, assistother professionals in developing blogs, automating information gathering and distribution, and WordPress website development.


Active board member and web designer of the Georgia Conference

Pass member of Georgia Safety Conference Board, past President of the ASSE Georgia Chapter

Past Chair - Gwinnett Safety Professionals

Past Adjunct Professor Safety Technology Lanier Tech, Georgia Tech. 

Received management awards for efforts:

Named the ASSE Georgia Chapter Safety Professional of the Year 1998-1999

Project Safe Georgia Safety Professional, 2008 Specialties: Safety Professional and Social Media, WordPress, Safety/Social Media Speaker

Certified Inbound Marketing Professional and Educator, 

Certified 6 Sigma Black Belt, BS -  Business Administration with a Masters in Safety Science, 


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