Column: Is ‘Safety Culture’ Dead?Source: EHS Today | 10 September 2014
In 1988, after the incident at Chernobyl, a new term arrived to arm safety professionals the world over. The report of the International Nuclear Safety Advisory Group (INSAG) coined the term “safety culture.” This concept quickly was embraced and refined over the next few years, but the definition from the INSAG report stuck around:
“The safety culture of an organization is the product of individual and group values, attitudes, perceptions, competencies, and patterns of behavior that determine the commitment to, and the style and proficiency of, an organization’s health and safety management.
Organizations with a positive safety culture are characterized by communications founded on mutual trust, by shared perceptions of the importance of safety, and by confidence in the efficacy of preventive measures.”
When I first heard about safety culture, I thought it made a lot of sense, and, admittedly, I embraced the concept. Since then, I have worked in various places, and I successfully have driven cultural change. Over that time, I have become less and less convinced of the existence of “safety culture” as my understanding of organizational dynamics has evolved.