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 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.
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.
Read background documents that dive deeper into how a strong safety culture can protect people and the environment.
Discover what we’ve learned from the years we’ve spent working with companies and other organizations to help build a positive safety culture.
Find resources to help build understanding about safety culture.
What we are doing
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
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.
- Statement on Safety Culture
- Safety Culture Indicators Research Project: A Regulatory Perspective
- North American Regulators Working Group on Safety Culture: Safety Culture Indicators Research Project Continued Learning (2018)
Research and outreach
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.
- CER Safety Culture CEO Workshops (2023) Summary Report
- CER Safety Culture Technical Workshop (2023) Summary Report
- Resources Allocated to Promote Safety Culture Advancement: 2022–23 CER Survey Results
- Resources Allocated to Promote Safety Culture Advancement: 2021–22 CER Survey Results
- Safety Culture Workshop 2021 – Group 1 Companies – Summary Report
- Safety Culture Workshop 2021 – Group 2 Companies – Summary Report
- Resources Allocated to Promote Safety Culture Advancement: 2020–21 CER Survey Results
- Canada Energy Regulator Safety Culture Work Plan 2020–2023
- Safety Culture Workshop 2019 Summary Report
- Safety Culture Workshop 2018 Summary Report
News and updates
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