Safety People Forum Review – Workplace Culture May 2024

Navigating the Nuances of Workplace Safety Culture: Insights from the Safety People Forum

The recent session of the Safety People Forum brought to light the intricacies of workplace safety culture through a spirited discussion led by experts and attended by safety professionals. Central to the session was Steve Simpson, who introduced the transformative concept of Unwritten Ground Rules (UGRs), offering a deep dive into how these silent but powerful rules shape organisational behaviour and safety practices.

The Silent Influence of UGRs

Steve Simpson’s insights into UGRs—the implicit norms that dictate “the way we do things around here”—provided a foundational understanding of how deeply embedded practices can significantly influence workplace safety. He emphasised that UGRs often carry more weight than formal policies, shaping actions and attitudes subtly but profoundly.

Broader Conversations on Safety

However, the forum was not solely dominated by Steve’s perspective. Various professionals contributed to a rich tapestry of discussions, highlighting the multidimensional challenges of safety culture. For instance, leaders emphasised the critical nature of aligning UGRs with formal safety protocols to prevent workplace accidents and enhance overall compliance.

Challenges and Strategies in Leadership

A poignant part of the conversation revolved around leadership’s role in shaping and redirecting UGRs. Leaders were encouraged to actively engage with their teams to unearth detrimental UGRs and realign them with organisational safety goals. This proactive approach is vital in ensuring that safety protocols are not just written guidelines but are embedded into the daily operations and attitudes of the workforce.

The Role of Values in Safety Culture

The forum also delved into the complex relationship between organisational values and safety practices. Participants discussed instances where companies had to revisit and revise their core values to ensure they encompass comprehensive safety considerations, not just customer focus. This reevaluation is crucial in ensuring that values support and enhance safety measures rather than undermine them.

Recruitment and Workforce Challenges

Ken, another speaker at the forum, provided updates on the recruitment space related to safety, injury management, and workers’ compensation. The discussion highlighted the buoyant market for safety professionals and the strategic recruitment of temporary employees to address specific safety challenges within organizations. This segment underscored the ongoing need for skilled personnel who can navigate the complex landscape of safety regulations and cultural expectations.

The forum concluded with a call to all safety professionals to continue their engagement with the evolving dynamics of workplace culture. As organizations prepare for future challenges, understanding and shaping the unspoken rules that govern employee behaviour will be crucial. The insights shared during the session not only highlighted the importance of addressing UGRs but also provided practical strategies for fostering a safety culture that aligns with both legal requirements and the intrinsic values of care and respect for the workforce.

The session underscored a collective responsibility among safety professionals to not only enforce compliance but also to foster an environment where safety becomes a shared value, deeply embedded in the fabric of the organisation’s culture.

Steve has made his slides from the session available here: Presentation Slides

You can discover more about Steve Simpson and his books and publications here:

If you would like to book for our next event you can find it here.

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