1614a Safety culture: an avenue to a sustainable, safe workplace

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Abstract

During the past three decades, sustainability has become an important strategic goal for organisations. These organisations can save costs and gain long term competitive advantages by being concerned about the future of people and planet through the creation of unique sustainability-oriented processes. The focus here is on the ‘‘cultural shift’’ or change and its effects on the financial, environmental, and social performance of an organisation. This shift entails (1) the management of human resources, health and safety at work, and adaptation to change, and (2) the management of environmental impacts and natural resources. A cultural shift is needed in many workplaces, especially in those that are poorly regulated. A negative attitude towards occupational health and safety is mainly caused by the ignorance of the causes of occupational accidents and diseases, and how to prevent them practically even in highly hazardous areas. It becomes a vicious circle or a ‘cycle of neglect’, where occupational health and safety never get the attention it deserves, until the cycle is somehow broken. It is important to assess the potential benefits of strong safety culture as well as health literacy; specifically, the management and organisational support to find the direct and indirect effects of safety culture change on firm performance and workers’ wellbeing. The safety culture is associated with several performance indicators, mostly linked to sustainable development (environmental, financial, and safety performance). Importantly, findings suggest that the relationships between safety culture and safety performance are mediated by the level of implemented environmental/safety practices within workplaces.

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