Creating A Culture of Habitual Safety

April 24, 2023

Assess your safety habits, change for the better, and create long-lasting positive habits that lead to an improved safety culture.

Creating A Culture of Habitual Safety

Finding the Holy Grail of safety is a pursuit for many businesses. At the end of the day, it all comes down to habits. The habits of your team members, managers and ownership all shape what your company safety culture looks like.

Creating a habitually safe work environment for employees is not only morally imperative, but it also helps reduce insurance risk. Encouraging good habits and promoting a culture of safety must be a priority in any workplace, and the benefits extend well beyond mere compliance with regulations.

What defines a habit?

Habit, by definition, is an acquired behavior pattern that is regularly followed. Habits easily become decisions and actions you make consciously or subconsciously each day. They can almost become involuntary at times. Duke University studies have shown that 45% of a person’s everyday behaviors tended to be in the same space creating a routine. (Quinn & Woods 2005; Wood, Quinn, & Kashy, 2002)

Changing an organization’s culture is much like changing its habits. If anyone has attempted to change a personal habit before, they know it doesn’t happen easily or overnight.

To change personal habits that are potentially harmful, we typically have a journey that is fraught with trying to move forward, lots of setbacks and failure. But, if you stay persistent and focus on your goals, the journey eventually leads to success.

Your goal is to change bad habits that hinder safety and create new, positive habits.

Here are a few ways to take significant steps toward positive habitual safety:

Identifying current risks and past losses

Bring awareness to your team by identifying current risks and past losses, such as workers’ comp and other known acts that can hinder safe habits. Awareness gives us power to influence outcomes. So being aware of your potential and past risks can give your team the ability to make better and safer decisions.

Eliminate the causes of injury, loss and risk by making substitutions

Beginning to remove the causes of injury, loss and general risk can help your team avoid actions, work and processes that tend to lead to injuries. You can eliminate these processes and begin to make substitutions where possible to keep your team safe. Sometimes simply finding a different tool or process is all you need to create an inherently safer environment.

Reward employees’ efforts

People tend to strongly resist change, and as mentioned early, changing habits is hard. It takes time. As you find the wins, celebrate them! Make these celebrations verbal, written and recognize good efforts to continue to cultivate behaviors you wish to see.

Don’t give up

Lastly, be patient and keep at it!This is a journey. There are going to be setbacks, frustrations and moments of doubt. Overtime you will see your efforts rewarded with a culture and employees that are habitually safe.

Habitual safety should be an ongoing goal within your organization to enjoy long-term success in reducing risks, injuries, losses and insurance costs. Taking the time to develop and implement safety habits, training, policies and guidelines for your organization is essential for the overall safety culture in your workplace.

And remember that communication is important to ensure everyone understands their part in keeping a safe workplace not only for themselves, but their colleagues as well.

About The Author

Aaron Paris, CSP, ASP

Aaron Paris, CSP, ASP
Email As the Director of Safety, Property & Casualty, Aaron has more than six years of experience in workplace safety and 12 years in law enforcement. Aaron consults with clients on a wide variety of safety issues such as worker safety, auto, property risk and other safety procedures. He is also authorized to teach OSHA 10- and 30- hour courses.