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Safety culture – What descriptors would others use to describe yours?

Posted by Jonathan Klane on Aug 23, 2021 11:00:00 AM

Previous: If I Can Focus On Only One Thing

Every group has some type of safety culture – the good, the bad, and the ugly are certainly three of many possibilities. How would others describe the safety culture for your group or team? Well, let's start with some possible categories.

As part of a study, I sought out descriptors in the safety culture literature, and I found 60. To be clear, these are mostly one or two-words used to describe a safety culture (as opposed to definitions or examples). Sixty seemed like a lot to wrap our brains around. 

So, I sorted them into one of four categories - positive, negative, neutral, and ambiguous. It helped, but it still wasn't divided up enough for our liking.

So, I further sorted them into subgroups of similar approaches or effects. Yup, that helped. Admittedly there was a certain amount of subjectivity to my final subgroupings. Other safety or risk professionals or researchers may make different choices resulting in subtle changes within these subgroups.  

Now, let's go back to my original question in the title of this blog – how would others describe your group's safety culture? Try this – take a look through my list here [URL link]. I've ordered them first alphabetically, then by categories, and lastly by subgroups. I suggest you start by skimming the alphabetic list. Only then, perhaps look at the categories and/or subgroups.  

Here's a good thought-starter. Choose just one to start. Then consider how strong of a rating you'd give it from 1-10 (I'm leaving out zero because it'd be non-existent, and you should choose a different descriptor). 

If it has a greater value, assign it in the 6-10 range. And if it has a lesser value, rate it from 1-5. Then choose a handful of others and rate them, too. Then stop. Now consider how others would rate each for your lab, group, etc. Interesting isn't it. You may want to use this exercise in your lab, office, or other groups or teams.

Next: Leadership – what do we all want? 

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