Creating a Safety Culture: What It Is and How To Get There

Topics: Safety/health
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Safety culture can be distilled into nine characteristics predictive of safety outcomes. By tracking performance across these characteristics, companies can measure their performance against the world’s most successful safety organizations, both within the industry and without. More importantly, they can identify gaps in their culture and breakdowns in their safety performance, thereby establishing clear goals to overcoming them and achieving safety objectives. To improve safety performance and create lasting change in organizational culture, leaders can focus on developing 10 safety-specific leadership capabilities.


A strong safety culture means more than just better injury rates. Organizations good at safety have been shown to do better across all performance areas. With improvements in safety comes greater employee commitment to company goals, more discretionary effort, better team functioning, and a healthier bottom line.

A high-functioning safety culture is defined by a clear vision from leadership that articulates actionable steps and specific behaviors leading to the desired state. When people know the goal and what is required of them to achieve it, they will not get lost in vague mandates that fail to motivate or that fall short of galvanizing individuals around safety improvement.

Culture change requires a leadership team that is committed to the vision and capable of guiding the organization through obstacles and the inevitable pushback that occurs with any initiative. Leaders can learn skills and develop capabilities that will move the organization in the desired direction and build performance across the nine culture characteristics indicative of world-class safety performance. With visible commitment to safety, leaders will gain credibility with the workforce and engage people in the process.

This article, written by Special Publications Editor Adam Wilson, contains highlights of paper SPE 178251, “Creating a Safety Culture: What It Is and How To Get There,” by Daryl Wake,DEKRA Insight, prepared for the 2016 SPE/IADC Middle East Drilling Technology Conference and Exhibition, Abu Dhabi, 26–28 January. The paper has not been peer reviewed.
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Creating a Safety Culture: What It Is and How To Get There

01 August 2016

Volume: 68 | Issue: 8