Beef Tips

April 2017 Management Minute

“What’s the Culture of Your Organization – Is it always Safety First?”

by Justin W. Waggoner, beef systems specialist

The data tells us that agriculture is a high risk industry, where “near misses,” accidents and even fatalities unfortunately occur. What is the culture of your organization or business? Is employee safety at the forefront? I certainly hope so.
However if it is not, how do we change that and create a culture of safety? Some say that the safety culture within an organization starts with the organization’s leaders and trickles down. Other sources indicate that training has to be a continual and ongoing process to create an organizational culture of safety. These are both correct. However with safety, it is very easy to find examples of “here is how we do it when the boss isn’t looking” and examples of great people who had the proper training and still made a bad decision. In both of these situations, the formal leaders of the organization were engaged in the process and the employees had the proper training, so how can we make progress?

Leadership is an essential component of creating a safety culture, but the formal leaders within the organization are not the leaders who are likely the greatest influencers. Safety is an everyday, in the minute issue on most operations.
Thus, the informal leaders within the organization or business are those that can have the greatest impact in creating a culture of safety. Leading by example, in those in the minute situations, is critical. Who are the informal leaders in your organization? Do they exemplify the core values of your safety culture? Identifying and engaging informal leaders is an essential and powerful component of initiating any change within an organization.

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