What is a safety culture assessment?
A safety culture assessment is an investigation into an organisation’s safety culture
22 February, 2022 by
Thoba

What is a Safety Culture Assessment? 

It has been found that significant industry-related accidents result from poor safety culture. Poor safety culture has a direct impact on safety performance which is why it is important to continuously assess your organisation’s safety culture.
A safety culture assessment is an investigation into an organisation’s safety culture.

What is a safety culture?

Safety culture refers to how safety is managed in the workplace. This involves the general attitude of employers and employees towards the safety of the work environment. A positive safety culture is one where everyone in the workplace believes in their safety and takes the appropriate steps to ensure everyone in the environment is safe—for example, following the proper safety procedures and using the correct safety equipment. Safety culture is essential because it has reduced work-related safety incidents.

Why is it important to assess safety culture?

To assess existing safety attitudes and norms in the organisation
It is crucial to know the existing safety culture within the organisation. This highlights the perceptions and actions of people in the organisation.  
To identify strengths, weaknesses and room for improvement
A safety culture assessment looks at the organisation’s practices and finds faults and strengths in the processes. If you know your organisation’s strengths and weaknesses, it is easier to develop procedures to improve the overall safety of the work environment. It allows the organisation to create a well-structured framework for continuous improvement.
To track the progress of the organisation
Safety Culture Assessments should be done continuously to track improvements and changes made. The regular assessment allows for

How to assess safety culture?

Assessing an organisation’s safety culture involves qualitative and quantitative tools used to measure performance. Most safety culture assessments utilise three factors to determine the organisation’s level of commitment to safety practices. These three factors are related, and what happens in one influences what happens in the other.

Psychological:

This aspect is used to measure how people in the organisation feel. It takes into account the group’s values and beliefs about safety.

Behavioural:

This aspect assesses what people do. The workforce is observed, and their daily actions are taken into account. Are their actions safe?

Situational:

This aspect assesses what the organisation has. Does the organisation have the appropriate policies, procedures, organisational structures and management systems in place?

To find the answers to all these questions, organisations use a mixture of methods. Tools like safety perception surveys and focus groups are used to determine the psychological aspect. One-on-one interviews with key personnel may also be conducted to understand better the information collected in the safety perception surveys.


For the behavioural aspect, an assessor observes the areas of the site where work is in progress. They watch the group and individual safety behaviours while work is in progress. They record potentially dangerous actions.
For the situational aspect, an audit of the organisations existing policies and procedures is conducted. The assessor uses these to understand the effectiveness of communication channels, incident investigation processes and the safety roles and responsibilities within the organisation.
Measuring employees’ understanding and expectations of safety culture while tracking safety incidents gives organisations a complete view of their safety climate. This also means organisations can be proactive about safety, something everyone from employees to company directors should find reassuring.