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6 Qualities of an Effective Safety Culture

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From plant floors to office spaces, we work hard to make sure everyone is safe at Sonoco. How? We’re proactive about safety, starting with identifying what it looks like. Below are six qualities of an effective safety culture…

Quality #1: Keep a clean and organized workplace. 

A dirty or untidy workplace can make even the simplest task more complicated. By maintaining cleanliness and order, a team can function with clarity and ease.

Not sure where to start? Here are a few ways we encourage clean and organized workplaces:

  • Create a schedule for regular cleaning and/or tidying.  
  • Describe what clean and organized mean in detail.  
  • Visualize cleanliness and orderliness with signage.

Quality #2: Take pride in all locations being safe for everyone. 

News of safety incidents spreads quickly. Safety accomplishments? Not as much. Regularly share the good news of safety to instill a sense of pride.

Here are a few ways we regularly celebrate safety at Sonoco:  

  • Open training events for all interested employees (e.g., CPR training).   
  • Acknowledge team members acting proactively to keep others safe in team meetings.  
  • Promote safety thinking, procedures and practices in internal messaging.

Quality #3: Welcome guests and set safety expectations.  

Consultants, customers and others regularly walk through workplaces. Setting up their expectations for practicing safety can help communicate a safety culture from the start.

Here are some ways we set expectations:  

  • Signing in and assigning visitor passes upon arrival.  
  • Providing the proper protective equipment needed for visitors.   
  • Explaining safety protocols and procedures before entering the plant floor.

Quality #4: Openly value each other by speaking up to keep work safe.  

Employees are the best safety resource. Actively engaging them keeps the workplace safer.    

Not sure how to encourage participation? Here are some ways we build trust and demonstrate value for those who speak up:

  • Ask questions to understand, not respond or appease.  
  • Collaborate with employees to create meaningful changes that make their work safer.  
  • Recognize and reward safe teamwork.

Quality #5: Identify ways to reduce exposure, rather than react to lagging indicators.  

World-class safety is proactive, not reactive. Identifying small and big ways to reduce exposure can elevate any safety culture.

Not sure how to shift from a reactive to proactive approach? Here’s how we work at being proactive:

  • Facilitate personal conversations about upset conditions and related exposures.  
  • Challenge the identified causes of incidents and ask why.  
  • Proactively identify and discuss exposures faced before unplanned events or incidents happen.

Quality #6: Showcase how team members lead safe work and keep everyone protected.  

“Want to see what a safe workplace looks like? See this.” This attitude will not only help you engage employees, customers and suppliers, but it also will help you draw them to you.

Not sure how to display your safety culture? Here are a few ways we do it:  

  • Publish safety success stories in our weekly employee newsletter.  
  • Apply and qualify for safety awards. Then, promote them.  
  • Encourage safety conversations everywhere—from the boardroom to the breakroom.

At Sonoco, we believe safe work is the right thing to do. People built and continue to build this business, so we want to protect and invest in their well-being. Why? It demonstrates we value our teams and foster an environment that produces world-class products and services.

Join us as we create a world-class safety culture!