This episode of ADJUSTED, a claims podcast, features Van Langham. The group discusses all things safety culture: keys to building a successful culture, common employer mistakes, avoidable accidents, and more.

Van Langham is the Director of Risk Management for Berkley Industrial Comp.  In his current role, Van forges partnerships with his clients and provides proven risk management/safety solutions to help ensure the health and safety of their workforces.  Prior to coming to Berkley Industrial Comp, Van spent many years working in numerous roles in industries such as mining, construction, and manufacturing before going back to college to obtain degrees in Human Resources and Occupational Safety and Health.  Combining his “boots on the ground” work experience and education, Van has the unique ability to empathize with others and help lead them on a journey to improved safety performance.  Van is a proven agent of change and has helped many employers develop optimal safety cultures and achieve outstanding safety results.  Van lives in Thomson, GA with his family and likes to spend his spare time on the golf course. 

Safety Culture

BUILDING A PREMIER SAFETY CULTURE TAKES TIME: You have to be patient, and you have to be relentless. Small changes may bring immediate results, but without the dedication and the follow-through, the results will be short-term. Building a safety culture is like raising a child; it can be easy now, or it can be easy later, but it can’t be both. You must remain vigilant, engaged, and have open communication with all employees to reap long-term results.

BE GLAD WHEN YOU HAVE MINOR INJURIES; THEY CAN HELP PREVENT THE MAJOR ONES: It is important to view them as opportunities to address potential hazards and prevent a possible catastrophic and/or fatal injury. Encourage all employees to report possible safety issues and near misses. When you have open communication, employees will feel that safety is “everyone’s responsibility,” and safety will become a core value.

GOOD HOUSEKEEPING IS ESSENTIAL:  Good Housekeeping and Safety go hand in hand. There is an old saying, “your attitude towards housekeeping is a direct reflection of your attitude towards safety.” When the workplace is clean, orderly, and free of slip and fall hazards, it shows a commitment to building a safety culture.

COMPLACENCY IS DANGEROUS: It is one of the top causes of avoidable accidents. Complacency occurs when employees underestimate the dangers of their jobs. For example, a new roofer may initially be nervous going up a ladder, but as time goes on, he might forget to tie off or be distracted when he is on the roof. The initial fear is gone, and he forgets that his job is dangerous. No matter how long he has done his job, the dangers that were there on day one are still there today. It is important for his coworkers or supervisors to remind him to tie off and have those safety discussions. Those discussions are not always easy, but it shows the employee/coworker you care about them.

YOUR EMPLOYEES ARE WATCHING: It is important to lead by example by wearing a hardhat on the job site, tying off when on heights, and wearing your PPE. Your employees will notice this, and they will mirror your safety behaviors. Show employees that safety is a core value, along with productivity and quality.  When you interact with employees, give recognition when wearing their protective equipment and promoting the company’s safety core values. Your employees will appreciate the positive reinforcement and will continue to help build a premier safety culture.