Mental Health Initiative

Resources|April 22, 2022

Developing a “Culture of Safety”

A “Culture of Safety” is a collection of beliefs and values that are shared from owners all the way down to frontline leadership focused on the safety and wellbeing of all employees.

By Brian Mello, Associate Vice President, Engagement & Regulatory Affairs, AGC of California

A “Culture of Safety” is the foundation of a successful construction company.

One of the most rewarding reasons for pursuing a career in the construction industry is the incredible work cultures formed at California’s contracting firms – cultures focused on camaraderie, giving back, making an impact, and continual growth. However, the most successful companies are those who instill a “Culture of Safety” throughout their organizations.

A “Culture of Safety” is a collection of beliefs and values that are shared from owners all the way down to frontline leadership focused on the safety and wellbeing of all employees. When implemented successfully, it can not only help with employee satisfaction and retention but also help a company run effectively and efficiently.

The safety and health of our industry are a top priority at AGC of California. In honor of National Safety Month this June 2022, we are shining a spotlight on the “Culture of Safety” so that more companies across the state can access the resources they need to keep their workforce safe and focus on creating opportunities to build and strengthen California.

Developing a Culture of Safety comes down to shared values.

This seems like a no-brainer, but a thoughtful approach must be taken for a strong company culture to materialize. Culture does not happen overnight, and it cannot be created by only a few individuals.

Creating a company culture goes hand-in-hand with establishing company values. The development of strong values around safety must happen first so that a company has something to adopt as part of its overall culture.

Values don’t tell you what do to, but how to think about what to do.

When establishing your values, it is critical to note that values do not tell a company how to act. Rather, values are a mindset that guides all company actions, regardless of the situation or changes in the environment.

For example, construction environments evolve — each phase of a project changes daily. AGC of California members execute unique projects across all business sectors with various requirements and needs, which creates circumstances never before addressed. Strong values within our member organizations allow for these projects to be executed safely and efficiently, regardless of the scenario. The shared values of our members allow for all employees to think about what to do with overall safety in mind. It is these strong values that equate to a “Culture of Safety.”

A Culture of Safety starts from the top-down but is built and maintained company-wide.

Culture is a process that starts with executive leadership building on shared values to develop a vision, strategy, mission, and core values for a company. These four pillars set the safety culture of a company:

  • A vision answers the question: Where are we going in terms of “Culture of Safety?”
  • A strategy answers the question: How do we, as an organization, get from where we are now to the destination we set in our vision. Many AGC of California members have executed unique initiatives as a strategy to achieve the vision they have for a culture of safety.
  • A mission answers the questions of what and why: What do we do daily and why? What motivates us to do it?
  • Core Values answers the questions: Who are we? Who are we becoming on this journey toward our vision?

Buy-in from employees comes from empowering them to participate in the execution of a company’s “Culture of Safety” vision. Creating an open-door policy where all employees can share ideas and thoughts will allow individuals to feel part of the bigger vision for a company. This is where a good “Culture of Safety” is executed because everyone is invested and feels free to contribute.

Creating a Culture of Safety is an ongoing process.

There are always opportunities to refine and improve safety culture. With new staff come new ideas, and with new projects come opportunities for change. Stay tuned throughout the month as we release highlights from AGC of California members who have created unique safety cultures. A successful Culture of Safety can vary from company to company, and we hope that this exchange of ideas can spur stronger safety practices and cultures across the industry.

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