Workplace Safety Model

 Audio Podcast available at the bottom of this post or on itunes.
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Discussed in the video:

  • 0:50 The 3 components of the model
  • 3:01 How to use the model

Tony Collins with a model to help you get your head around workplace safety.

I remember in 2009, attending a workshop with a Dr Thomas Krause, who that year was named one of the Top 50 Most Influential H&S experts in the World. Up until that point I had read a lot around safety, experienced how people work and think about safety out in the field. I was helping to implement safety management systems and that the next step to take was address safety culture.

Eventually we will be talking about all these topics in detail, but today I want to give you a framework or around workplace safety.

Until the workshop, I had all these concepts in my head and it was difficult to decide what I should do to move things forward at work. The model is that safety is made up of three distinct components, which are:

1. Systems

2. Culture and

3. Leadership

Workplace Safety Model Frames Your Thinking

What I love about this model, is that when you are working on safety in your workplace, you can ask yourself which area am I working in, and what am I putting in place in the other areas to support what I’m doing.

If we look at these components, most of the time people focus on Systems. Systems are critical because they capture learnings from the past. Usually hard won lessons from other’s or your own experience. It is critical to create a system that allows learnings to be retained within the organisaiton or your business, and is not reliant on a few key individuals. Because one day, they will leave your business. Systems help shape your business., including safety.

But what is the Culture thing. That is when the company values safety to the points it is shared belief throughout the company and those values become part of decision making so that decisions favour better safety outcomes. The problem with Culture it is difficult to measure or assign a number, as a Systems approach. But a classic example of a poor culture is have a company being at an audited systems level, but the safety manual stays on the bookshelf until the next audit so people can get on and do their work. That’s a classic example of misalignment of systems and culture.

Leadership of course drives and creates the culture. Leadership at all levels driven by personal ethic of the leaders towards safety.

The reason I like this model is we separate the three elements out in this model as it highlights how important these components are. In your workplace, the way to use this H&S model is when you are looking at doing any work, let’s say hazard management around a particular task, ask yourself what is the system, how to we involve the leader, how do we make this part of the culture of our workplace.

There are limits to models so if you have any others you’d like to share with the community, please add them to the comments section below.

This is Tony Collins at