BY: Hammam Elmahi
In occupational safety and health, an organisation’s safety culture has the most influence on employees’ behaviour. Understanding the organisational aspects that affect the behaviour, will help to introduce change that improves the company’s performance. In the NEBOSH IG syllabus, human factors that affect workers’ behaviour are usually exam questions. Organizational factors are the characteristics of an organization that can influence the behaviour of its employees. One of the benefits of understanding these factors is to evaluate their effects on individual and job management approaches, besides that, it represents the root causes of failures in managing risk, for example, usually accident’s route cause is a management gap, thus apprehending its characteristics can reap many advantages. The organisation factors are outlined below:
1. Organisation culture:
Whether it is a positive or negative safety culture, it has a genuine effect on your employee’s behaviour. By culture, I mean the beliefs, values, attitudes and norms that are adopted by the management of the company. For instance, a company without an occupational safety and health management system, would not have adequate policies and procedures that can dictate individual behaviour. Like when an accident takes place, if management doesn’t investigate it, that is a clear sign of poor safety culture. which will lead to encouraging workers to behave poorly.
2. leadership & visible management
lead by example! Visible management means enabling transparency and open doors for constructive criticism. Above that, leaders should adopt accountability as part of their governance approach to make their’s and others’ actions measured. When organisations adopt these concepts, employees behaviour will improve up to the company’s level of commitment toward the vision of the organisation.
3. Sufficient resources provided:
Another organisation factor is the provision of sufficient resources. Employees need resources to do their activities safely, and it is the organisation that should deliver the quality and adequate tools, equipment and materials, to protect the team from harm. Resources are an organisation factor because it has a direct effect on the workers’ behaviour and wellbeing. Organisations should take its moral obligation to provide it.
4. Work Patterns:
work pattern aka organisation pattern, represents the working time, duration and dates, including the work routine. Organisation patterns will affect employee’s behaviour as their abilities are impacted by the time (day or night) and duration (8 or 12 hours). For example, there is a correlation between the accident rate and time, because the workers’ perception will get lower at the late working hours, which happened because of the organisation that arranged this working time.
Does your organisation have open communication? Do your employees have a voice in your organisation? Are you transparent about the information communicated? These questions can give you an idea about how strong your organisation is in communicating with its employees. Safety is a mindset and a message need to be built with time and open discussion. Organisation communication will influence the workers’ behaviour and overall safety culture.
Mentoring, coaching and training are techniques used to improve workers’ abilities and develop their attitude toward the organisational aims. To change safety interpretation at any organisation, you need to build the capacity through training because it provides the foundation on which you can develop your system. Several training methodologies can be adopted according to the organisation’s training gaps, such as classroom-led training with an instructor, virtual training and on-the-job training etc… use the suitable one, but remember the measure the effect of your investment at the workplace.
7. OHS policy.
Policy aka statement of intent is the constitution that the organisation’s safety and health management system is all about. Policy includes a comprehensive belief that the top management is eager to communicate to its employees, it shows the commitment toward safety and health objectives. When the organisation develops and works with its policy, the staff will subsequently do the same, because their attitude is determined by their employer.
8. Working Conditions & Environment
ILO puts a clear obligation on employers to provide a safe workplace. The working environment can impact employees’ behaviour, positively or negatively. Providing practicable welfare is essential and one of the workers’ rights, however, its level can contribute to workers’ behaviour. Moreover, psychosocial health and well-being are connected to the working environment especially when the work is demanding and deadlines are tightening.
Understanding the organisation factors aids the management in decision-making because they comprehend what drives workers’ behaviour, and how their philosophy affects workers’ attitudes. Rather than organisational factors, there are also individual and job factors which can shape organisations’ occupational safety and health. I will cover both in the coming article
Source: UK, HSE, Reducing error and influencing behaviour, HSG48/ RMS.