Safety culture elements

The Organisational Safety Culture Appraisal Tool (OSCAT) has five scenarios with prompt questions linked to a set of safety culture elements and sub-elements.

The elements are based on research (including the UK Health and Safety Executive's Safety Culture Inspection Toolkit), the Waterfall and Glenbrook inquiry findings and input from subject matter experts.

The tables on this page provide descriptions of sub-elements for the six safety culture elements. 

Element 1: Management & Leadership



1.1 Safety Message

Consistent, clear and strong safety message is communicated

1.2 Actions Support Safety Message

Management act as role models, they lead by example, their actions match their words, they have credibility, their actions support the safety message even under difficult or non-routine situations

1.3 Visibility

Management regularly interact with operational staff, regular site tours

1.4 Time & Resource Commitment

Adequate time and resources are devoted to safety

1.5 Decisions

Decisions prioritise safety over performance (production), risk & safety decisions are made at the proper level by appropriate qualified people

1.6 Actions

Actions are taken to address known safety issues, culture is active rather than passive, "things get done"

1.7 Encouragement

Safe behaviour is encouraged, managers encourage discussion about safety, supervisors do not permit cutting corners to get the job done

1.8 Systems

There are systems for management of safety that are clear, comprehensive, understood by all levels of the organisation and actively "lived" (e.g. the systems are used and used effectively)

Element 2: Just Culture

Sub-element Description

2.1 Trust

Operational staff trust that they won't be unfairly penalised if they report incidents or raise issues, management are approachable

2.2 Fault Allocation Process

Care taken not to apportion blame before root cause analysis is complete. The purpose of the process should be to learn from the incident, rather than apportion blame

2.3 Disciplinary Process

Clear procedures for deciding upon the relevant disciplinary actions, clear distinction between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour, actions taken to manage unsafe behaviour are fair and consistent

Element 3: Information Flow (reporting / feedback loop)

Sub-element Description

3.1 Employee Reporting Behaviour

Employees report safety issues, e.g. hazards, concerns, near-misses, incidents, etc, and believe that they will be taken seriously

3.2 Organisational Reporting Systems

There is a system that is in place and is known by management and staff and is easy and straightforward to use for reporting

3.3 Feedback

Operational staff are kept informed of safety issues relevant to them, they are given feedback about safety concerns that they raise

3.4 Communication flow

Good communication flow up and down the organisation and across divisions

Element 4: Risk Awareness

Sub-element Description

4.1 Employee Understanding of Safety Risks

Operational staff are able to identify and recognise hazards and risks associated with their tasks / environment

4.2 Proactivity & a Questioning Attitude

Planning ahead, preparing for and controlling potential risks, questioning towards "the way things are done", not accepting complacency, a sense of cautiousness and wariness about operations and the operational environment

4.3 Management of Risk

Safety issues or identified hazards are ranked and prioritised according to risk

Element 5: Learning Culture

Sub-element Description

5.1 Internal Monitoring and Evaluating

Organisation monitors and evaluates changes, new systems, etc. Continuous improvement focus

5.2 Systemic Analysis

Systemic analysis for incidents & accidents, identifying root causes, monitoring patterns and trends, the organisation knows what their key hazards are

5.3 External Monitoring

Looking outside own organisation, proactively looking for ways to continuously improve

5.4 Safety Measurement

Positive performance indicators as well as negative performance indicators, successes ar

Element 6: Staff Involvement

Sub-element Description

6.1 Staff Involvement in Changes

Including input into changes or new initiatives, input into risk assessments

6.2 Staff involvement in development of policies, systems and procedures

Involvement of staff in development of tools and materials

6.3 Staff Involvement in Safety Improvements

Involvement of staff in safety changes and improvements

More information

See the Development and validation of the HMRI safety culture inspection toolkit page on the UK Health and Safety Executive website.