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The attributes of an integrated safety culture

Certain organisational cultures provide a more favourable environment than others with respect to taking safety into account in the decision-making process. The good news is that we know their characteristics. This is an excellent starting point for knowing where to concentrate efforts to change!

The attributes of a successful safety culture

A large body of research has highlighted the features of an organisational culture that supports industrial safety. 

Understanding the 7 attributes

Shared awareness of the most significant risks
There is a shared awareness of the most significant risks, beyond minor accidents. Risk analyses involve operational staff and their results are widely shared. Employees are regularly reminded of the possibility of serious accidents, in order to reduce fatalism (if they do occur, it won’t be due to a “stroke of bad luck”).

Questioning attitude
There is a shared conviction that risks are never fully managed. Doubt is valued. Vigilance is shared by all operational staff at all times.

Integrated culture, everyone is mobilised
The organisation acknowledges that no single person has all the information and knowledge necessary to ensure safety. Safety requires a commitment from senior executives, managers, and employees in both operational and support departments (HSE, HR, engineering, procurement, etc.). Each person participates in safety by following the rules, and making a proactive contribution (reporting incidents, making suggestions).

Right balance between rule-based and managed safety
The organisation prepares itself both for events that it is able to anticipate and for those it is not.
Predictable events are the topic of group discussions involving operational teams, and the focus of regular drills.

Constant attention to the three pillars
The technical barriers that are defined during the design stage are compatible with production and maintenance operations. They are regularly maintained and updated.

Management leadership and employee involvement
Safety is taken into account in all decisions.
When it comes to safety, management adopts a directive-participative approach to leadership that encourages compliance and proactiveness.
Debates between professionals concerning safe work practices are encouraged.

Culture of transparency
Managerial practices encourage trust and foster a speak-up climate. Top management ensures that words (company statements) and actions (company decisions) are aligned. Information flow is encouraged.