Safety Culture

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A company’s culture influences what people see, hear, feel, and say, and the actions they take. Companies that promote a positive safety culture build strong defenses that can help prevent major accidents. Because of this, we’ve committed to building an understanding of what safety culture is and how companies can improve theirs.

What you need to know

Learn about cultural threats and defenses

Learn how a company’s safety culture can include both positive and negative characteristics. These characteristics help determine whether the companies environmental and safety outcomes will be positive or negative.

What we expect of companies

See how we expect companies to understand what a safety culture is, why it matters, and what they must do to build and maintain a positive one.

Related documents

Read background documents that dive deeper into how a strong safety culture can protect people and the environment.

Research and outreach

Discover what we’ve learned from the years we’ve spent working with companies and other organizations to help build a positive safety culture.

Safety Culture Learning Portal

Find resources to help build understanding about safety culture.

What we are doing

Fact Sheets


Other documents

Learn about cultural threats and defenses

A company’s culture can be made up of several positive or negative characteristics.

  • Negative characteristics act as threats against a strong safety culture. As a result, they may end up contributing to the likelihood of a major accident. Companies need to be aware of these threats and be prepared to take action to address them.
  • Positive characteristics act like defenses against these threats. They help prevent major accidents. Companies need to nurture and strengthen these positive characteristics to achieve the best safety and environmental protection outcomes.

For more information, read the CER’s Statement on Safety Culture.

What we expect of companies

Know what safety culture is. The everyday attitudes, values, norms, and beliefs that leaders and staff share about risk and safety (including environmental protection).

Understand why it matters. What leaders and staff see, hear, feel, and say affects decision-making and behaviour. These decisions and behaviours, if positive toward protecting people and the the environment, can contribute to preventing major accidents.

Do what it takes. We expect companies to build and maintain a positive safety culture.

To do this, companies need to:

  • be proactive in their safety management efforts
  • understand what cultural defenses and threats are and how they affect performance
  • promote cultural defenses that support safety and environmental protection
  • recognize and address cultural threats that may contribute to major accidents

Related documents

The documents below give a background on what safety culture is and how it affects keeping people safe and protecting the environment.  Read them to get a good understanding of safety culture and what it looks like within an operating company.

Research and outreach

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Since 2014, we’ve been building and sharing our knowledge about safety culture with industry, Canadian and international regulators, and other interested organizations. Much of the work we do is focused on outreach: raising awareness, promoting networking, and facilitating open discussions about building a positive safety culture. Read more to discover what we have heard, what we have learned, and where we are at now.


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