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Culture, the safety professional, and building organizational capacity: reflections from the field on safety promotion in cross-cultural settings.

Flynn-MA; Castellanos-E; Flores-A
Safety 2014: Proceedings of the 2014 ASSE Professional Development Conference, June 8-11, 2014, Orlando, Florida. Des Plaines, IL: American Society of Safety Engineers, 2014 Jun; :1-10
The globalization of supply chains and business operations increasingly requires safety professionals to develop and implement safety programs in cross-cultural settings. This generally occurs either because the safety professional has been sent by their company to oversee operations in a foreign country or because they are employed or contracted by a foreign company doing business in the safety professional's home country. As a result many are finding the need to adjust their own approaches to safety and that of their organizations to effectively adapt to the global economy. While these two situations present unique challenges, promoting occupational safety and health in either situation requires tools - both practical and theoretical - that enable safety professionals to identify and understand how the different cultures operate in these situations so that they can work effectively with both employees they supervise as well as people who supervise them. This article discusses key areas that safety professionals should consider when evaluating their own individual capacity and that of their institution for promoting safety in cross-cultural settings. It takes examples from the field in Ecuador and Mexico to highlight common challenges, approaches and mistakes that safety professionals and organizations make when working cross culturally. Finally, it attempts to provide a starting point on how to identify and avoid these mistakes.
Sociology; Sociological-factors; Racial-factors; Safety-programs; Work-environment; Workers; Worker-health; Safety-practices; Work-practices; Safety-climate; Safety-personnel; Health-protection; Work-operations; Adaptation; Safety-education
Michael A. Flynn, M.A., Social Scientist, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Cincinnati, Ohio
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Construction; Wholesale and Retail Trade
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Safety 2014: Proceedings of the 2014 ASSE Professional Development Conference, June 8-11, 2014, Orlando, Florida
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division