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Towards a lasting safety culture

07 April 2021

Tim Waples reminds UK businesses that safety is a journey, not a destination and they should take a hard look at safety on site.

CREATING A lasting safety culture — where best practice behaviours and actions are embedded in day-to-day operations — should be the top priority of any site. 

Safety requires commitment. It’s that simple. If management is seen to act, and implement change, a workforce will be reassured and inspired to do the same. Investing in safety is an investment in the business and its future. You are more likely to see financial gains if you have a strong safety culture in place. Safety is not just common sense, it’s good business sense.

A prime example is our 2019 FLTA Safe Site Award winners Kellogg’s. They invested hugely in making an old and complex site safer, but recognised that toolbox talks, staff meetings and constant engagement were what really made the difference.

Here are just a few suggestions and tips for kickstarting a journey towards a better safety culture:

• Set positive goals: Instead of focussing on lagging indicators, i.e. what businesses don’t want to see, think about leading indicators, which are the things a company wants to see more of. Set targets then make them happen.

• Don’t be complacent: Smart organisations look for areas of improvement and risk, then put controls in place to resolve issues before serious problems occur.

• Involve and inform staff: In great safety cultures, every employee has a working knowledge of health and safety topics, and they know their roles and responsibilities. 

• Have an open-door policy for reporting issues: Create an environment where constructive criticism is welcomed, and where reporting is not merely guilt-free but praised. No-one should fear they will be ignored or — worse still — punished for coming forward, and nothing should be swept under the carpet.

• Continue to communicate: Keep safety alive through every channel available and make sure that safety is top of the agenda when new recruits are inducted. Achieving high participation rates will provide encouragement and momentum for future initiatives.

To support the industry in improving safety standards, the FLTA created the Safe User Group. Members receive access to invaluable tools, exclusive resources, case studies with actionable tips, and advice on easy, affordable site improvements.

The Fork Lift Truck Association is part of the UK Material Handling Association (UKMHA). Our mission statement is to uphold the highest standards of safety and service across the UK material handling industry.

Tim Waples, chief executive, UKMHA 

For more information, visit www.fork-truck.org.uk/safe-user-group