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Our unique approach to Cultural Safety® pulls together what we’ve all learnt through many implementations of Behavioural Safety over the years and around the world. It encompasses Safety Leadership, Process Safety and best practice in the Human Resources area as well as Behavioural aspects of Safety. So whilst Behavioural aspects of safety continue to be a core element we now look well beyond behaviour alone into how the other elements of an organisation’s culture interact and affect safety performance.

RyderMarsh OCAID Limited has a team of specialist Principal Consultants in the areas of Behaviour Based Safety, Human Factors, Incident Investigation, Leadership and Research; all of whom have experience working with a wide range of international organisations from many different industries including the nuclear industry, marine, pharmaceuticals, chemical, construction industries, transport, manufacturing and many more.

How we approach Cultural Safety®

RyderMarsh OCAID approaches culture change through a unique Cultural Safety® Programme framework that is used to develop and maintain an effective safety culture.  It is built up in three sections; Culture, Leadership and Process.


Culture is one of the greatest drivers for behaviour as human beings so we start by analysing the core elements of culture.  We then look at the Leadership approach needed to enable change and the Processes that can be used to change culture.


Figure 1 Elements of Cultural Safety® Programme Framework: Culture surrounded by Leadership and Process


Model Elements

1 – Culture

Culture is such a vast subject that in order to understand where issues are, we need to break it down.  We consider culture in four key areas; Beliefs, Language, Rituals and Artefacts.  The reason for this approach relates to the study of Sociology and Anthropology, where a significant difference in any single area would be an indication that the two cultures would themselves be different.  The advantage of taking a cultural approach to safety is that as well as the behaviours (Rituals) we also look at the things that have the most significant effect on behaviours, so we are dealing with root causes and not just symptoms.

Beliefs are the hardest part of culture to change. Imagine politics, religion – almost impossible to change people’s beliefs and that’s is why it’s more effective to focus on the other three areas of culture to demonstrate that we really mean what we say about our safety culture and to get people to trust that we mean what we say and therefore change their beliefs.

2 –  Leadership

The group of people with the greatest effect on culture, and indeed the ability to influence change in the key areas, is the Leadership within an organisation.  Within the Cultural Safety® programme ‘Applied Leadership’ refers to the tools that we need to successfully complete this change.  Developing these skills with anyone involved in cultural change is essential if we want people to really engage with the process and help to make the changes to the safety culture we are looking to achieve.

One of the key predictors of an organisations safety culture is perceived management value of safety, often expressed by the behaviour of managers within the organisation. It is the leadership behaviour therefore of managers that often can be key to influencing risk taking occurring within organisations.

What is Safety Leadership?

Leadership is more than just management, and refers to not to just what, but how a person influences and motivates others. For example, if a manger walks by an employee not wearing the correct PPE for the job, because they do not notice it is not being worn, the employee can be left with impression that managers do not mind if safety rules are not followed. It is these subtle things or soft signals that can play a major role in safety across the board.

That’s about consistency and authenticity of ‘leaders’ at any level in the organisation.


Why do people find it hard to lead on safety?

Quite often people are promoted to management roles were leadership skills are required based solely on technical ability alone. As a result, managers can often be task orientated and can often fail to communicate the importance of safety due to daily work pressures. The challenge here is to provide people in leadership roles with the skills to understand how they can misrepresent and under estimate risks and hazards, how and what influences people in their charge to take risk and how effective manage people and influence their behaviour.


Leadership is very much about emotional intelligence and a ‘leader’ doesn’t need to be as skilled in a role as their teams as they will collaborate and use the skillsets of the team to reach decisions which leads in turn to the team members feeling valued, an intrinsic motivator of engagement.

How do we know Cultural Safety® works?

Through interviewing thousands of front line staff, all the way up to CEOs of the same organisations, we can assess not just where a company culture is but more importantly why.

We map organisations against our own Roscoe/Bizzell Culture map which shows how organisations can get into the trap of ‘System obsessed’ and are not able to move their cultures forward due to this focus on volume of paperwork.  It’s our belief that the HSE have an impact on this obsession of ‘fear’ of having to have all the paperwork that is, might be, may be, just in case, so almost preventing safety culture improvements, contrary to their ethos.  What we know for sure is that what gets you to compliance won’t get you further, you’ll need a different approach and some new skills & techniques.

Roscoe/Bizzell Safety Culture Development Map

Clearly then leadership has to accept that in order to move a culture forward, there has to be a focus on a proactive approach where ownership, co-operation and respect play a major part.

This is where many organisations are not quite ready and although they get the concept their management structures and skill sets are not enablers to the new approach. Think of Theory X style management who are used to command and control and now they have to co-operate and listen to other opinions, not easy for some who have ‘always done it that way’.


Research and our own findings show that there are key ‘leadership’ behaviours which can all relate to many leadership concepts such as Followership, Transactional vs Transformational leadership. Here are some traits of good and bad leadership.

                Reactive Leadership Traits                                                       Proactive Leadership traits

               Theory X                                                                                            Theory Y

               Reactive                                                                                             Proactive

               Efficient                                                                                             Servant leadership

              Us and Them                                                                                    Collaborative

              Command and Control                                                                 Empowering

              Autocracy                                                                                          Innovative

              Compliance                                                                                      Engaged

3 – Process

Understanding of culture is valuable in its own right but the programme follows through with tools that can be used to support culture change.  The process elements and tools are iterative and in our π Process™ consist of Identify, Measure, Analyse, Design and Deliver.  However this can be substituted with other suitable methodologies, such as Lean Manufacturing or PDCA, which may be already in place.  One method of implementing this process is via Workplace Improvement Teams that are typically 80-90% frontline staff.

Cultural Safety® Programme improvements often commence with listening to what people think, observations and historic issues.

Are you ready for change?

Of course, before you can plan to change your culture, you need to have a clear idea of what you’d like it to be, and ensure the transition makes sense from your current position.

While this seems pretty obvious, we’ve seen many leaders and organisations go off at a tangent on a culture change programme they’ve read or heard about, without really understanding those two-key start and end points.

You need to create a vision of the ‘promised land’ or ‘World Class’ you want to reach, which you will be able to express in a compelling way, and in ways that people at all levels will understand.

When you have an understanding of your current organisational culture, and have set out a vision for the future, it’s time to look at whether organisational culture change is practical right now.

Does your diagnosis suggest to you that there is the appetite for the change? Do your leaders really believe in it? Are they ready to persuade and engage your people in making the change, and do they have the tools and the skills needed to do so?

Planning to make the change

If you decide that organisational culture change is realistic, there are still likely to be barriers to making the change.  Using the Culture Assessment to asses both where your current culture is, and more importantly why, setting out your future vision allows you to identify barriers at each step of the way, and put together a plan for tackling them.

Take each obstacle, and consider the key steps you need to take to dismantle or reverse it, including what resources you need and when, initiatives or projects that need to be implemented, and who will lead them. It’s essential that you have a strategy for integrating actions for organisational culture change into ‘business as usual’, so that the business continues to function throughout the changes.

When planning organisational culture change, the key, above all else, is to spend the time beforehand thinking, discussing, engaging colleagues, and planning the whole process, before ‘pressing the button’.

For further information on Safety Culture Assessment or the impact of Cultural Safety® please contact info@ocaid.com