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Safety culture

Last updated February 2024

This chapter explains safety culture and the steps you should take to improve your safety culture.

What is safety culture?

Safety culture is an essential part of a company’s safety performance.

Definition: Safety Culture

Safety culture is a workplace’s collective attitude and approach to health and safety. The patterns of behaviour that are promoted through safety culture determine the level of proficiency and commitment to a business’ health and safety program.

Depending on the safety maturity of your organisation, your business could be at different stages of a safety culture. The stages are:

  1. Pathological: not taking any account of safety in its operations.
  2. Reactive: having a system of administrative and engineering controls, and being largely compliant with legislation but otherwise only responding to incidents.
  3. Calculative: having reactive systems and more sophisticated technological and systematic controls designed to remove identified hazards.
  4. Proactive: having calculative systems incorporating higher levels of compliance by workers with those safety systems through behavioural and cognitive influences such as attitudes, perceptions, knowledge, skills, social norms and other socio-psychological factors.
  5. Generative: having proactive systems, and positive cultural and sub-cultural influences that improve the adoption of safety standards. For example, a culture within the organisation that although the customer is always right, safety comes first.