Proven Steps for Creating a Culture of Safety at Colleges and Universities
Higher education institutions are not immune to safety risks. Due to the high volume of people on campuses, from tour groups to students and staff, higher education institutions can experience similar risks to other industries.
Implementing a culture of safety should be top of mind for administration. In addition to minimizing safety hazards, a culture of safety can also boost morale and success. The responsibility lies with administration to communicate that safety is everyone’s responsibility. An open and honest relationship between management and workers is critical.
To implement a culture of safety in higher education institutions, consider the following:
- Define safety responsibilities: These definitions should include clear policies, goals, and plans for safety on campus. Communicate them across every level of the institution.
- Enforce accountability: Create a process that holds everyone accountable for maintaining safety, including administrators, supervisors, faculty, seasonal workers, and students.
- Encourage communication: Provide flexible options for employees to bring their concerns to management. Options can range from submission boxes to emails. A chain of command ensures that the right people respond effectively to employees who report concerns directly.
- Report, report, report: Educate employees on the importance of reporting injuries.
- Conduct effective investigations: Evaluate the incident investigation system to ensure it can best identify the underlying cause of incidents. This will help the institution prevent similar incidents in the future.
- Build morale: Set clear expectations, provide helpful feedback, acknowledge good work, actively listen to understand issues, follow through on commitments, and remove roadblocks for employees. Make efforts to keep everyone motivated as the culture changes. Give regular praise and recognition for those showing a commitment to safety.
Safety is imperative for the success of the institution, its faculty and administration, and its students. With a culture of safety established, the institution can minimize risks and hazards, and a sense of morale and comfort will take their place.
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