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Occupational Safety and Health culture assessment - A review of main approaches and selected tools

by L. Eeckelaert, A. Starren, A. van Scheppingen, D. Fox, C. Bruck
European Agency for Safety and Health at Work ()
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Managing OSH in a systematic way, addressing regulatory, technical, organisational and managerial aspects, is vital to attain safer and healthier workplaces. However, OSH entails more than just focusing on formal issues. As risk prevention and OSH is, in the first place, about people - and preventing them from harm - attention should also be paid to behavioural aspects, and social and cultural processes. Approaching OSH from an organisational culture perspective can in this regard facilitate achieving sustainable improvements in organisational OSH performance. Occupational safety and health culture, or more briefly 'OSH culture', can be seen as a concept for exploring how informal organisational aspects influence OSH in a positive or negative way. It can have an impact on how OSH is perceived and dealt with among workers in an organisation, and on whether workers are aware of OSH-related issues and act in a safe and healthy way. OSH should not be entirely reduced to a matter of culture. OSH culture helps to see an organisation in a different way. The knowledge and information, gained from such a cultural approach, can, in turn, be very useful in the process of changing OSH-related policies, processes, and practices step by step, adapting them to the existing local context and culture, and eventually leading to better OSH performance. This review attempts to describe a cultural approach towards understanding OSH. It aims to help the reader understand OSH from a cultural viewpoint, and how OSH culture can be assessed as part of a process of organisational improvement. The aim is to convey up-to-date information on this complex topic in a straightforward, condensed way, trying to build a bridge between research and practice. The review is intended as an informative text for business managers in general, and as a practical guide for OSH practitioners. This is because much of the academic research related to the topic is published in scientific books and journals that are often less accessible for non-academic OSH professionals.

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